St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital volunteers are a crucial support system for the patients and their families. Volunteering provides endless opportunities and experiences; just ask Patty Stephens, she has been volunteering for almost 13 years in the Child Life Department and has loved every minute of it.
"It has been one of the very best decisions I ever made. I have met so many interesting people, made friends that I treasure, and lasting memories that sustain me through difficult times. I am so inspired by the children, families and friends that I have made," expressed Patty. Volunteering at St. Jude has exceeded Patty’s expectations. "I really had no idea how much I would love and learn from my time here," she added.
Patty took an early retirement as a registered nurse and began to miss the atmosphere, so she began volunteering at St. Jude. Patty has also served as president and secretary of the St. Jude Auxiliary and served on their newsletter committee.
Spending a majority of her time in waiting rooms, Patty has made many favorite memories with patients. One particular week she had children from different countries – patients from China, Greece, Latin America, Ukraine and the United States – all in her play area. "I sometimes play music during my shifts since it lightens the mood and changes the 'vibe' of the place," Patty noted. These children will dance and sing along and get especially excited when they hear a song they recognize. Patty recalls one particular day, the children were sitting around the arts and crafts table when the song "YMCA" came on. "The children started doing the gestures that went along with the song and singing it even though they could hardly speak English," said Patty.
It's moments like these that inspire Patty to keep volunteering. The benefits are endless for her. She hopes everything she does for the patients makes their day a little easier. "I get so much support and encouragement back from them that I look forward to any time that I get to spend at St. Jude," exclaimed Patty. "I can’t say enough about what a positive, fulfilling experience volunteering at St. Jude has been for me. I recommend it to anyone. It will have a wonderful impact on your life."
Due to Patty's outstanding dedication to the patients and her commitment to St. Jude and its mission, she was chosen as the 2011 recipient of the Sheryl K. Nienhuis Award, the highest honor given to St. Jude hospital volunteers.