Janet Gatewood, a former St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital employee, began volunteering in the Teen Room in October 2007 after her retirement from the Immunology department. Gatewood worked in the lab for 25 years before retiring in 2005.
“Our focus was functions of the immune system and the cells that control those functions,” Gatewood said. “I worked at St. Jude for 25 years. After retirement, I knew I wanted to be a volunteer. I feel so fortunate to still be a part of St. Jude.”
Gatewood said the day she started volunteering at St. Jude, a Halloween party occurred in the Teen Room. She said she enjoys spending time with patients in that room and hopes the teens know she truly cares about them. Gatewood said many of those patients were unforgettable.
“I have so many wonderful memories being in the Teen Room. I don’t think I could single one out,” Gatewood said. “The maturity and hopefulness these teens have; they totally understand their situations, yet always come in with a smile and a ‘good morning.’”
Gatewood described the hospital’s staff as being consistently pleasant and helpful. She said volunteering at St. Jude has helped her develop strength and more compassion for others.
“Being a St. Jude volunteer is the most rewarding experience one can have,” she said. “Volunteering opens your world to the lives that other people deal with.”
Gatewood spends her time outside St. Jude as a docent at the Memphis Zoo, as well as on the board of the Liberty Bowl. As a docent, Gatewood serves as an educational resource for visitors at the zoo. She also said the Liberty Bowl is a major supporter of St. Jude through fundraising and raising awareness of the hospital.
Gatewood said she hopes she can remain a part of the magnificent work of St. Jude for years to come.