Last week I went to Texas Children’s hospital for the second time. I was there for an interview; the next step to become a volunteer. Spoiler alert: you are looking at (no, not literally ‘looking’ but you get the point) the newest member of the Radio Lollipop volunteer group! What is that you ask? Keep reading and I’ll tell you all about it.
The interview was the second on-site meeting I had to attend. The first was an information session, where they share logistical information about the volunteer program and the hospital. They cover all the available opportunities for volunteers (three pages worth). The speaker asked who was there to be a baby holder. She asked with that tone that told me I was not going to be a baby holder, but I did the very nonchalant half raise of my hand, as though to say I didn’t REALLY want to hold any babies but would if they asked (reverse psychology). Inside I was yelling “I wanna hold all the babies!!!” Every other woman in the room did the exact same thing.
I was then informed that I would not be holding any babies. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Apparently, baby holder is kind of like Olympic-level volunteering. You don’t start there – you work your way there. Ok then, back to the drawing board. My other options included library – not bad, craft time – getting warmer, or, Radio Lollipop. Hmm. A hospital radio show? That sounded interesting. She also said they have the hardest time getting volunteers for that position because people are afraid of having to go on air during the broadcast. Luckily I have no fear when I comes to being silly in front of kids. Sign me up.
Radio Lollipop is a stand-alone group found in hospitals all over. The job description for a volunteer is to provide 2 hours of play per week. Guys, my job description is to play. Every week I’ll interact with the kids playing games and handing out prizes, and it’s all broadcast throughout the hospital. The kids can come to the broadcast room to do crafts or hang out during the show, and it is known as the doctor-free time – only fun stuff allowed. To top it all off, I get to wear crazy hats and dress up. I still have one more training session to attend before I can start, but I am so excited! I was thinking something like this for my first costume, but I have a feeling the kids won’t get the reference:
In my interview, the coordinator asked me why I wanted to become a volunteer there. For a long time I’ve felt the need to give back, but wasn’t sure how. I tried going through the church, but there were never an opportunities listed on the events board. I feel a strong pull to do something to help the homeless. Living downtown makes it hard to ignore that problem, but aside from giving money to the people I encounter, I don’t know how to tackle that problem on a larger scale.
Then the hospital came up in a conversation recently. I was talking with a person who volunteers there, and as soon as they mentioned it, I knew I would do it. I learned first-hand last year what a great impact hospital volunteers can have. We came back from that experience with the impression that every person in that hospital is the nicest person in the whole world. You could tell they really cared about helping. I only hope I can do as much for these families as the volunteers at University of Iowa hospitals did for us.
If you want to become a volunteer yourself, go to the Texas Children’s website for more information. Some things to consider:
- You will need to take a TB skin test. I had no idea what this would consist of before I went into the clinic, but I walked in and confidently asked for the test. I must have sounded like I knew what I was talking about, because no one explained to me what they’d be doing. I had no idea that I wouldn’t get immediate results (good thing my procrastinator side was on vacation that week). Here’s the lowdown: your doctor will inject a fluid into your arm then two days later you go back and get the arm examined. If it’s clear, you’re clear. I’m not exactly sure what my arm would’ve looked like if I tested positive, but I’m imagining some radioactive glow being emitted from the injection site to let the world know that I have TB. Ok, so I don’t really even know what TB is or how socially awkward it would be to have it. All I know is that I got very weird looks when I told people I was being tested for it.
- While we’re on the subject of getting stuck, you should be willing to get a flu shot. I know there are some people out there opposed to the flu shot and vaccines in general, but to a kid with a weakened immune system, the flu can be deadly. Take one for the team.
- You have to commit your time to this. That may have made some of you say “duh, it’s volunteer work – of course you’re committing your time.” To which I would respond, “why are you saying duh, that’s like, so ’90s.” But seriously, you should go in knowing what will be expected of you. By signing up, you are saying you will be responsible to the volunteer organization, your fellow volunteers and the kids. With the radio show, I’ll be assigned to a specific ward. I’ll interact with the same kids week to week, and it will be so important to be there consistently.
If the hospital isn’t your thing but you want to volunteer, you can check out Volunteer Match. It’s a site where you can identify opportunities based on your interests.