In celebration of National Volunteer Week, we’re introducing you to Miriam Post, a 21-year-old junior at Virginia Commonwealth University. The bilingual psychology major began volunteering with Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) her freshman year to meet required volunteer credit hours. Miriam’s ‘required’ time quickly turned into a love of working with children in the hospital setting, and ultimately helped define her career path towards becoming a child life specialist. From coloring in a child’s room to visiting the playroom for a round of board games, Miriam spends three hours a week making sure that kids come first at CHoR.
”We look forward to Thursday mornings when Miriam volunteers,” said Heather Kinney, senior child life specialist at CHoR. “Play is a universal language but it’s such a gift for our Spanish-speaking patients to interact with someone who speaks their language. Miriam quickly builds rapport with all kids and families and helps ease the burden of being in the hospital – in more ways than one.”
Q&A with Miriam
What’s the most rewarding part of volunteering at CHoR?
Seeing kids laugh and play – and just be kids. Even though they might not be healthy – they still need to be kids. It’s also rewarding to give parents a break and for them to see their children acting as they would outside of the hospital walls. I think families are happier when their kids are happier. The relief that comes over a parent’s face when I walk in is often priceless to me. I’m not going to give shots, ask questions or take vital signs – I’m just there to make their child happy.
What are the benefits of being a bilingual volunteer?
I love working with all families, but when I walk into a Spanish-speaking family’s room, I can give relief. It’s so rewarding to see a child’s face brighten up when they hear me speaking their language. A child who may have shown no interest in playing or getting out of bed for another volunteer might open up to me because we can communicate.
What types of activities do you do with patients and families?
I’m here to help kids have fun. When I visit school age kids we either stay in the room or go to the playroom for crafts or games, go for wagon rides or read books. For the babies, it can range from just holding and comforting them to reading them books. I’ve come to realize over time that the older kids just want someone to talk to! We talk about music, new movies and just every day stuff that I can relate to.
How has volunteering in the hospital helped define your career path?
People always told me, you would be great at doing ‘this or that’ after college. Volunteering led to me finding out on my own what I want to do, and what I’m great at. I found working with children in a hospital setting myself, and I love it! It makes me excited to move forward with a child life specialist career after college.
Interested in volunteering with CHoR?
Learn more about volunteer opportunities on the MCV Campus, Brook Road Campus, and with Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Has Miriam or another volunteer made a difference for your child and family? Share your story below.