Why did you select Cleveland Clinic for Volunteer Service?
I have a friend that was volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic Children's five years ago when the Canine Greeter program was being considered. She knew I had a therapy dog and suggested I look into it.
What do you enjoy most about your Volunteer Service?
After a while, I realized my weekly Pet Therapy visits were not just a benefit to a handful of patients I could see individually, but now, through the Canine Greeter program, I can boost the spirits and reduce tension for dozens of family members waiting nervously for their loved ones to get through surgery.
With patients coming to the Cleveland Clinic from all over the world, often only a single family member is by themselves in the waiting room. But a sudden interaction with the dog can help discover a comradery between otherwise strangers seated nearby, break the ice in striking up conversations, help everyone pass the time, and for those alone, provide them with an instant support group.
Share a story where you felt your Volunteer Service made an impact.
One of the areas I would visit on main campus was the ICU family lounges. Sometimes families are "camped out" for weeks, so you get to know them a little and they look forward to your visit. One of my favorite stories happened a few years ago just before the winter holidays. One week I met a nice woman whose husband was in ICU. She was occupying her time knitting, and had a few hats and mittens on the table that she said were Christmas gifts for the family.
The next week she was still there and the coffee table in front of her was full enough that she could have opened a store. On the third week she was still there, but the table was bare. She smiled broadly when she saw me, "We're finally going home!" she said, "And I was hoping to see my favorite dog before we left so I could give him this." she added, pulling a scarf from her overstuffed knitting bag that she had taken the time to knit for Tex.
What would you say to someone who might be interested in volunteering at Cleveland Clinic?
It may be a "mega" hospital, but when returning patients and staff remember your schedule and make a point stopping to see you and your dog, it feels like you're part of a small family.