Driscoll’s volunteers motivated by more than just care, generosity

Celebration honoring them to be held at the hospital May 24

CORPUS CHRISTI – For several hours a week, Valerie Caldwell’s smiling face is the first thing visitors see at Driscoll Children’s Hospital’s Welcome Center. Caldwell became a volunteer at Driscoll a year and a half ago after being urged by some friends who are also volunteers.

“You get to see a lot of people coming in and see what’s going on in the hospital,” Caldwell said of the Welcome Center. “Working here gives me insight into the heart of Driscoll Children’s Hospital. And it’s a big, compassionate heart. There is a family-oriented feeling here,” she went on to say before she stopped to help a visitor sign in.

Caldwell is one of 340 volunteer members of the Auxiliary to Driscoll Children’s Hospital who are being recognized for their efforts during National Volunteer Week, April 15-21. On May 24, Driscoll will host a celebration for them with cake and door prizes in the hospital’s auditorium. The party’s theme will be “A world of diversity…one purpose.”

“The Auxiliary’s contributions to the hospital are priceless,” said Lizette Saenz, director of Volunteer Services at Driscoll. “We could not do what we do without their thoughtfulness and commitment. I believe the volunteers enrich not only the lives of our patients and families, but their own lives as well.”

Saenz’s belief rings true with volunteers like Joe Lugo. He can be found helping out in the hospital’s fifth floor classroom, where long-term patients keep pace with their school curriculum. While helping some children mix colors to paint the papier-maché masks they were making, Lugo explained that he first began volunteering in the communities he lived in while he was in the Navy.

“Some of the kids I’ve encountered in the past didn’t have a father figure,” said Lugo, who retired after serving 20 years in the Navy. “I encourage these children, praise them and they appreciate it. What I’ve learned over the past year at Driscoll is that these children are more of a blessing to us than we are to them.”

Volunteer Dick Hinman, 81, has roamed Driscoll Children’s Hospital since 1994, entertaining patients with antics and magic tricks. He never leaves a child without a smile.

“This is like recess for me,” Hinman said with a kind, grandfatherly voice. “I’m a big kid.” A toy mouse peeking from the pocket of his blue smock is Stuart Little’s big brother, he pointed out. Then, with seriousness, Hinman echoed the sentiment of other Driscoll volunteers.

“Some of these kids are very sick. Some are having surgery. If you can make their day better it makes yours better too. I enjoy it, the kids enjoy it. It’s nothing complicated.”

By the numbers:

  • Number of volunteers at Driscoll Children’s Hospital: 300
  • Number of volunteers at Driscoll’s McAllen and Brownsville clinics: 40
  • Age range of adult volunteers: 18 – 90
  • Number of Driscoll’s summer 2012 Volunteens: 85

What: Driscoll Children’s Hospital Volunteer Celebration
When: 11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 24
Where: Driscoll Children’s Hospital auditorium, 3533 S. Alameda St.