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April 09, 2019
April is National Volunteer Month, and Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Arkansas Children’s Northwest are proud to offer a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. Whether you’re a retiree looking for a fulfilling way to spend your days, a college student seeking to fulfill a service requirement or simply have a desire to give back to the community and help others during your free time, there is something for everyone at Arkansas Children’s.
The act of volunteering in any capacity is a rewarding experience for all involved, but working with patients at Arkansas Children’s is an experience unlike any other. Dale Martin, a retiree who has been volunteering since July of 2018, says the opportunity to spend time with children is gratifying. “There’s nothing better than seeing the smiles on their faces whenever we’re talking or playing together,” he said. “I get to become a giant kid with them, and I enjoy it so much.”
After spending years as a volunteer with newborns and infants at his church, Martin joined the volunteer program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for the chance to spend even more time with young ones. “At church, I only have two hours with them on Sunday and one hour with them on Wednesday, so I was very excited about being able to have more time with kids,” he said.
Martin is especially grateful for his regular interactions with one young patient. “You can tell he’s in pain every once in a while, but he loves to play video games,” said Martin. “I’m horrible at video games, but he’s teaching me. He’s so active and seeing a smile on his face means everything to me. Now, every time he sees me, he recognizes me and knows my name. It’s the ultimate in rewarding.”
Having experienced first-hand what it means to be a volunteer at Arkansas Children’s, Martin now encourages others to join him. “I think it’s more of a calling for me. You have to have the desire to be with the children, and that’s the only reason that I do this,” he said.
“The need is so great. As much as I’d like to, I can’t stay there all day. I’d love to leave and have somebody else come in after me. That would be the best way.”
The process to become a volunteer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital or Arkansas Children’s Northwest can take time, but it is necessary to ensure the safety of patients and families as well as the success of all volunteers. To become a volunteer, applicants must be at least 14 years of age, provide immunization records, a two-step tuberculosis skin test and proof of a current flu shot for the months of October-March. The process also includes a criminal background check, hospital orientation and an interview with Volunteer Engagement staff. For more information about joining Arkansas Children’s as a volunteer, e-mail email@example.com.