Thanks to La Rabida’s volunteers

To the Editor:

As National Volunteer Month of April comes to a close, I want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank all who give selfless gifts of their time and talents this month and throughout the year.

Your labors of love and compassion make the collective community a more vibrant space. Whether you collect trash from park grounds or serve soup to the homeless, you make the world a better place.

Many Hyde Park Herald  readers are among the 2.73 million Illinoisans who donate their skills and energy to make it possible for children to participate in sports, show kindness to those who must live apart from their loved ones in nursing homes and other institutions and for students to get a little extra help with their homework. Your 286 million hours of service would amount to $6.3 billion in pay, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Research shows that volunteers are healthier by giving. According to data collected by UnitedHealth Group, volunteers have lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being because you give of yourselves.

At La Rabida Children’s Hospital, where kids with chronic illness and disabilities forge strong bonds with our volunteers, the children’s smiles of appreciation keep volunteers coming back week after week, year after year.

Some of our volunteers from Hyde Park and elsewhere have been returning for more than 25 years. Last year, 229 volunteers gave 9,750 hours of service to the hospital.

Many of you joined us earlier in the month as we celebrated our dedicated volunteers. I expressed my deep gratitude for the hours you give freely reading to youngsters, holding and feeding babies, greeting families and/or tutoring students.
Working with children who live with chronic illness and disabilities is not easy. It takes a special person to sit at the bedside of a toddler struggling breathe or one who can’t eat without the assistance of technology. Moreover, you help provide a safe and nurturing environment for children who come here for care and make the work of hospital staff easier with the many tasks you perform. You are knitted into the very fabric of our staff and culture — part of the family.

Again, I am humbled to be part of a national tribute to volunteers that began 40 years ago and has since grown into a national call for everyone to do more than their fair share for the greater good.

I am grateful to all volunteers, but to La Rabida volunteers in particular. You are a vital part of our community and we could not meet our mission without you.

Judi Blakemore
Manager, Volunteer Services
La Rabida Children’s Hospital