Volunteer Spotlight

In recognition of National Volunteer Week in April we decided to shine a spotlight on our volunteers, who give so freely of their time to care for our children. The following is Erica Ard's story about volunteering. 
What is best thing to do after leaving an eight-hour work shift on Tuesday evenings? For Erica Ard, it is to start a two-hour volunteer shift at La Rabida in the Child Life Pavilion.
“One time, I drove through a snow storm just to get there. I have such a great time! There’s always laughter, smiles and even singing at times,” says Erica.
A volunteer since November 2012, Erica says that she does it all for the kids. An admitted “kid at heart,” she teaches children at her local church and began volunteering when she decided she wanted to reach out to special needs children as well.
Erica knows a few nurses at the hospital, so when looking for a place to lend her time and compassion for children, La Rabida was her first choice. “I never regret taking on the task,” says Erica. “I will admit that I was nervous my first day, but when I began to interact with the kids I knew I was at home. I’m not sure if I will ever want to leave.”
“If I have made one child laugh, smile or respond positively, then my job is fulfilled,” says Erica. “The kids are such troopers and they encourage me all the time. Often we look at our problems and make them so big, but these kids treat illness like it is a mole hill. I’ve learned so much from them. They are some of the best teachers and champions I know.”
Volunteering has a large impact on both the patients and on the volunteer, and the tradeoff is very much worth it to Erica. She is so enthusiastic about her experience that she has begun tweeting about it regularly!
“I would tell anyone thinking about volunteering at La Rabida to do it. It is positively life changing.”

Johnnita Williams
Finding inspiration in service

Brenda Bearden
Giving gratitude for unlikely humor

Flora Hugghis
Importance of working behind the scenes

Judith Hayes
Touching lives one at a time

June Walton
Advocating for girls and literacy

"Kate" Forrester
Honoring a friend through service

Joan Lawson
Serving families "almost perfectly"

Shinettte Smith
Avenging the sick