Heidi Beck, holding patient Jenna Taliaferro, says a child’s smile is “worth a million dollars.”
Abraham Guggssa takes pride in doing top-notch clerical work as a Children's volunteer.
Hundreds of volunteers, like Heidi Beck at left, donate time throughout the year at Children's Hospital. For them, it's a labor of love.
Beck may have more hours invested in Children's than many employees. She's put in more than 9,500 hours holding babies on the third and fourth floors. That's equal to more than four years of full-time work.
Beck has been helping out at Children's Hospital for 20 years, ever since she retired. "I just love those little people," she said of the children. "When you get them to smile, that's worth a million dollars."
Another volunteer also talks about love, former chair and CEO of Kaiser Aluminum Cornell Maier.
"Holding a little baby next to your cheek-it feels like love is flowing between us," said Maier, "It's as close to heaven as I'll ever get."
He's been holding babies in the intensive care nursery two mornings a week for the last two years. Before that he spent 13 years playing with older children in the hospital playroom. He's logged 2,200 volunteer hours, the equivalent of a year working full-time.
Of course it's not all holding babies. Cornell, also on the board of Children's Hospital foundation, figures he's changed more diapers over the years than any man except some male nurses.
Cornell's dedication "inspires by example," the theme of this year's National Volunteer Week observed April 17 - 23, and sponsored by the Points of Light Foundation [www.pointsoflight.org]. It's what Cornell and more than 1,000 other Children's volunteers do every time they help out at the hospital.
Together they gave more than 31,000 hours of their time in 2004, the equivalent of 16 full-time employees.
Volunteers served in 48 areas of the hospital offering clerical and office support and assisting staff in the hospital's School Program, Family Resource & Information Center, Intensive Care Nursery, Emergency Dept., Children's Surgical Center, teen program, Gift Shop, and even with morning and evening coffee cart duty.
Abraham Guggssa, a former Children's employee in Environmental Services, has been volunteering three days a week for the last two years. He does clerical projects, including assembling the more than 10,000 inpatient admission packets used at Children's each year.
Abraham takes pride in the precision he devotes to putting each packet together. The Ethiopian native believes each part of the Children's experience, including admission packets, deserves care. "I like to make people happy, to make children happy," said Abraham.
All of these standout volunteers agree. "You get a lot more out of volunteering than you give," said Cornell.
Become a volunteer! Get started now by going to the Volunteering page or call the volunteer department at 510-428-3471.
PHOTO: Heidi Beck, holding patient Jenna Taliaferro, says a child's smile is "worth a million dollars."