Helping hands_ hundreds of individual and corporate volunteers support the community mission of children’s specialized hospital

“We help transport children from their rooms to their therapy appointments and back to their rooms again,” explained Anthony, 85, who noted that this brand of support not only saves hospital therapists the time associated with collecting and returning their pediatric patients, but benefits the kids as well.

Assisting with as many as 10 round-trip moves during their four-hour shift, “we talk with the kids and help take their mind off things; sometimes they want us to hold their hand during the trip,” Rose Marie said.

For the LaTorres, who first learned of the opportunity to volunteer at Children’s Specialized Hospital in 2009 through a neighbor, the chance to be there for the young patients — many of whom have been in accidents, have suffered brain trauma, or have a genetic disability which requires their use of a wheelchair or walker — is an experience they wouldn’t miss.


“Once you start volunteering and see how bright these kids’ faces are and the amazing progress they make, it’s all worth it,” Anthony said. Cbs sports fantasy football cheat sheet A powerful experience

Vivian Cappolla knows what a powerful experience the act of volunteering can be for all involved. As Children’s Specialized Hospital’s Volunteer Manager since 2013 and an employee within the hospital’s volunteer department for five years prior, “our volunteers aren’t coming in for a reward per se, but often tell us that they get more out of it than they put in,” she said.

Responsible for placing individual volunteers based on their different areas of interest and the hospital’s needs — “I’m a bit of a matchmaker,” Cappolla said — she noted that the hospital’s corps of volunteers cut across all demographics.

“We see everyone from high school and college students to working adults, retirees, corporate groups, and everyone in between,” she said, adding that people have a range of different reasons for volunteering. “Some of our volunteers had services at Children’s Specialized Hospital as children and want to give back, while others were in a hospital somewhere at some point in their lives and recall how much the volunteers meant to them. Some are students who are considering a career in the pediatric health field and want to test the waters, while still others simply love kids and just want to help them.”

Upon reaching out to the hospital with an interest in volunteering, supplying two references, and being approved, Cappolla said that there are many ways volunteers can be of service. In addition to specific jobs such as that of ‘internal transporters’ like the LaTorres, “volunteers can help sort toys, support hospital maintenance projects, assist with landscaping or planting, and more,” she said.

“Individuals can also spend time with kids in a recreational therapy setting, help support swimming, martial arts, teen night, and other outpatient programs we run, or assist with programs we operate for kids with special needs in the community,” she said. “People can also volunteer to help at our annual Walk n’ Roll at Johnson Park in Piscataway each May,” an event which draws some 2,000 attendees annually.

Regardless of one’s preferred mode of involvement, “Children’s Specialized Hospital can have 200 to 250 or more volunteers assisting across our 13 locations on a weekly basis and over 600 to 700 unique individual volunteers providing hours annually,” Cappolla said. Treating some 30,000 patients and their families each year, “we couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers, who make things so much easier for our children, families, and staff,” she said.

In addition to its cadre of individual volunteers, the hospital also welcomes a broad range of corporate volunteers. Among those is leading healthcare company Johnson & Johnson, which, with 40 locations statewide, has a strong culture of community giving and support and has forged a positive and long-term relationship with Children’s Specialized Hospital.

For John Crisan, chief compliance officer at J&J in New Brunswick, member of the Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees for a decade, and chair of its Foundation Board since early 2015, the opportunity to volunteer at the hospital was a perfect fit.

“Years ago, I’d been looking for a way to contribute back to the community,” Crisan said. In addition to the positive experience at Children’s Specialized Hospital that a work colleague shared with him and the fact that his wife had also done volunteer work there, the hospital’s Mountainside facility was very close to his Westfield home and its New Brunswick facility was right near his office. “I soon learned of an open board seat and found that the opportunity truly suited my corporate, business, and legal background,” he said.

In his role of helping to provide direction to the Foundation and its fundraising efforts, Crisan has witnessed employee groups from J&J and other corporations participating in such initiatives as painting and maintenance projects, golf outings, marketing/promotional activities, and numerous other organized and one-off efforts on behalf of the hospital. Pony softball While he noted that J&J supports many causes in a variety of ways, both in New Jersey and around the globe, “Children’s Specialized Hospital is driven by a team of dedicated therapists and leaders and is one of the highest quality organizations I’ve come across; they do a phenomenal job with kids and do it with a passion and excellence that’s unsurpassed.”

“Our volunteers always tell us what an amazing feeling it was to get involved and make a difference and how much it meant to them to put a smile on a child’s face,” Cappolla said. “It’s about truly helping people and knowing that they sincerely benefited.”

“We’re always excited to go to Children’s Specialized Hospital and experience so much satisfaction from volunteering there every week; anything we can do to help the children and therapists is worth it,” said Rose Marie LaTorre, who recalled the joy she and a former pediatric patient shared after running into each other in a restaurant following the patient’s discharge.

“Our employees are often surprised and delighted to find an organization like Children’s Specialized Hospital right in our own backyard — it’s a place that you might not have known existed if you don’t need their services, but it has a real ‘wow’ factor,” J&J’s Crisan said.

For anyone interested in volunteering but unsure how to begin, Crisan suggests starting small. “You’ll see the value emotionally and intellectually,” he explained. “Helping others adds another dimension to your life, giving you a broader perspective beyond your own work and family that allows you to grow personally.”

Children’s Specialized Hospital’s Cappolla agreed that the value of volunteering can be priceless. “At the end of the day, you think you’re doing something for the hospital,” she said, “but it’s often you who had an indelible experience.” Take action

Through its 13 New Jersey-based locations — in Mountainside, East Brunswick, two in New Brunswick, Roselle Park, two in Toms River, Newark, Egg Harbor Township, Hamilton, Clifton, Bayonne, and Warren — Children’s Specialized Hospital has been instrumental in serving the evolving health needs of children throughout America’s changing time and in providing the innovative therapies and medical treatments to help children facing special health challenges achieve more of their goals and reach their full potential. For more information on Children’s Specialized Hospital, call 888-CHILDRENS or visit www.childrens-specialized.org.

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