Archive for the 'Volunteers' Category

The heart of a Parenting Program volunteer

Thank you

During National Volunteer Week, I am especially cognizant of the massive impact made by each of our volunteers. I am reminded that this program would not and could not exist without our team of volunteers. And if I am perfectly honest, I don’t need a nationally recognized proclamation to appreciate the efforts of our volunteers. I already have an immense amount of pride and sincere appreciation each and every time I see one of our volunteers giving dedicated time on the unit or helping out in our office.

I frequently leave a parent group setting on a utopic high. I’ve been known to drop a tear or two, when reading parent evaluations that highlight above and beyond volunteer support. I continue to be amazed by the many volunteers who come into the hospital on weekends and on holidays. One, in particular, has been doing it for more than 20 years. Beaumont senior leaders and administrators can attest to the fact that it is not uncommon for me to gush about our team of volunteers whenever and wherever I can. Yep, without reservation and quite unabashedly, I shout from the mountain tops on a regular basis that the Parenting Program unequivocally has the best of the best volunteers.

I could spend days on end sharing the many stories of extraordinary volunteers. And yes, I must admit, I have some favorites. But what I find most compelling, and perhaps even a phenomenon, is that our volunteers don’t wish to be acknowledged in front of a crowd or presented with a pin signifying years of service. In fact, most of our Parenting Program volunteers specifically verbalize that an award luncheon and monetary gifts are unnecessary.

So, what does that tell you about our amazing volunteers? Parenting Program volunteers give straight from the heart.

To all of our volunteers – I am grateful for the many lessons you have taught me and I am thankful for your passion, time and talents. With each family that you support, the ripple effect is monumental.

Happy National Volunteer Week!

– Deanna Robb, Beaumont Parenting Program Director

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Danielle Rumple

mom, dad and little girl

Danielle with her husband, Steve, and their daughter, Gabrielle.

Volunteers come to the Beaumont Parenting Program via many different paths, but one common avenue that brings people to the role is having participated in the program as a new parent. It speaks volumes about the BPP that so many families who reap the benefits of community and support from participating in the program, turn around to sow the seeds of love and friendship by giving back to their community as a Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer. One such person is Danielle Rumple.

Danielle, 33, and Steve are raising their 2-year-old daughter Gabrielle in Birmingham. Prior to becoming a mom, Danielle worked as a director at the Detroit Regional Chamber. Though she returned to work briefly after Gabrielle was born, Danielle decided to change her path to become a stay-at-home mom. Danielle enjoys working out, baking, and spending time with family and friends. She also enjoys reading; her favorite books are “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo, and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. For children, she recommends Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff, but spends time every week at the library with her daughter reading books and looking for new favorites.

Danielle currently serves two roles for the BPP: a group leader (leading her third group!) and a speaker on baby sign language. Danielle learned about baby sign language with her daughter when she participated in a daytime moms group with Gabrielle. She continues to sign with her daughter, and decided to take the opportunity to share her knowledge with other participants in the program. As part of her role guiding new parents through their journey, Danielle encourages them to “appreciate each day with their child. The days are slow and sometimes quite exhausting but the years go very fast.” Danielle is grateful that she documents her daughter’s days on film and video because she has changed so much in her two short years.

woman on Wheel of Fortune

In addition to volunteering for the BPP, Danielle volunteers with Girls on the Run, “a YMCA program designed to inspire young girls to be confident and healthy through practices and training for a 5K.” Additionally, she is a group exercise instructor at the Birmingham YMCA. Danielle is also a bit of a celebrity, as she was recently a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. She came in second, but says that she had a blast.

We don’t need to buy a vowel to solve the puzzle of Danielle’s role with the BPP. The garden she is cultivating with those seeds of love and friendship comes in first place with the Beaumont Parenting Family.

– Nicole Capozello is a Parenting Program volunteer.

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Lillian Stier

mom, dad and twin boys

Lillian Stier with husband, Eric, and twins Zachary and Jackson

Winston Churchill said, “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” So when Lillian Stier became a stay-at-home mom, you can say that she was no longer making a living, but she was most definitely making a life. She is also making the lives of those around her much better by her efforts as a mom and as a Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer.

Lillian is a registered nurse who is currently staying home full time to raise her twin boys, Zachary and Jackson, age 3. She and her family live in Troy, Michigan, where Lillian volunteers as a Parenting Partner in the Beaumont NICU. As a Parenting Partner, she teaches parenting skills to new parents, such as bathing and swaddling, thereby providing help to both the new parents and the nursing staff. Lillian is uniquely qualified for this position because of her experience as a nurse, but also due to her experience as a NICU parent with her boys.

She became a volunteer for the BPP “to be able to offer support to other new parents. Adjusting to parenthood can be very overwhelming and being able to talk to someone who understands can be helpful. [She] remembers being a parent in the NICU when Zachary and Jackson were born and [she was] so grateful for all the support and care that [she] received. [She] wanted to be able to give back in any way that [she] could, even if it was just making a difference to one parent.” Lillian has made a difference to more than one parent, and plans to reach even more new families by becoming a group leader for the BPP. The role of a group leader is to organize a group of new parents and facilitate meetings for them and their babies where expert speakers give helpful information, parents offer invaluable support to one another, and children make their first friends.

In addition to being a mom and a BPP volunteer, Lillian also volunteers for Kensington Community Church. In her spare time (which I’m sure there can’t be much of with all of the hats she is wearing), Lillian enjoys knitting, tennis, swimming with her family, and drinking coffee (which is no doubt a necessity to accomplish everything else she enjoys). Lillian thinks many would be surprised to know that she is fluent in Cantonese, which she is teaching her children, and that she was born in Hong Kong. Her favorite book is “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, and her kids’ favorite things about her are her hugs and kisses.

Lillian found, as so many BPP volunteers have, that she gets back as much as she gives to the program, and told me that she’s grateful for the connection to one parent she was helping who turned around and helped her through a difficult time. She would like to tell new parents, “You are doing the best that you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because being a new parent is hard! Also, make sure you take time for yourself. I can better take care of my kids when I take care of myself; it makes me a better mom. “

After all, making a life is hard work. And everyone in the BPP family thanks Lillian for her efforts at making hers, and theirs, a better one.

– Nicole Capozello is a Parenting Program volunteer.

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Christie Neely

Selfie of Christie Neely

Boonaa Mohammed said, “A good way to forget your troubles is to help others out of theirs.”. So I thought the Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer I would like you to meet next is Christie Neely.

When Christie’s adult children moved out, they left “a large empty gap” in her life. While dealing with the difficult adjustment of an empty nest, she decided, along with her friend and coworker, to “do something . . . that would allow [them] to make a difference in the lives of people.” Rather than dwelling on the ever-changing emotions involved in her situation, Christie chose to become a volunteer for the BPP, where she has served as a group leader, a hearing screener, and a parenting partner. She recently became a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, which will give her even more tools to be able to help the families of the BPP.

Christie has been a BPP volunteer for almost four years. She is married to her husband, Mike, with whom she has two children: Corissa (27) and Nick (24). In addition to her volunteer service, she works as a sales coordinator at Intraco Corp.. In her spare time, this Rochester Hills resident likes to do anything outdoors, including camping, kayaking and hiking. Something many may not know about Christie is that she is a member of the Detroit Fly House aerial acrobatic family. She finds the other members of the Detroit Fly House supportive and encouraging — which is how the BPP families who  benefited from Christie’s time and efforts would describe her!

I asked Christie if she had any bits of favorite advice to share with new families. She said that she would tell them to “relax and enjoy it. So much pressure is put on parents to be perfect in the eyes of others. Families need to accept that what is good for them may not be good for others and it is OK.” When asked what her favorite part about being a BPP volunteer was, she replied, “Helping the new families navigate the crazy world of being new parents.”

In closing, I would like to share Christie’s favorite quote from Dodinsky: “I do not judge people by the scriptures of their faith, or the scars from their past, I embrace them by the content of their hearts.” As we judge Christie on the content of her heart, we find that the BPP is fortunate to have her as a dedicated volunteer, and the families that she helps are very blessed indeed to have this empty nester help them with the feathering of their own new roosts.

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program volunteer

Volunteers: Lessons I’ve learned

Cake with "Thank you volunteers" written on it

Altered image. San Jose Library, Flickr. CC license.

As I reflect back on more than 20 years of working alongside volunteers, without a doubt, some of my most notable lessons in life come from those who give so freely of their time and efforts. In celebration of National Volunteer Week, I thought it would be most appropriate to highlight some of the valuable lessons I’ve gathered along the way.

  • There are many volunteers who have amazing stories to share. Yet their best virtue is their gift for listening to others.
  • I am often humbled by those who have suffered and experienced great loss. It is their ability to stand with such strength and give with such heart that leaves me in awe.
  • When it comes to volunteering, age isn’t a factor. It’s more about the heart.
  • Volunteerism is the opportunity to be a part of something that bring all walks of life together with common goals and meaningful purpose in mind.
  • There are indeed angels in this world. We are often touched by them — just ask any Parenting Program staff member and they will confirm that this is true.
  • Amidst stressful days and questionable times, I’ve been lifted and held by volunteers. I continue to be amazed by the magnitude of heart and compassion that volunteers can exude.
  • From my student volunteers, I learned to dream big and to keep marching towards your goals. Persevere and you will succeed.
  • Superheroes do exist! They may not wear capes, but I see them out in our community and at the hospital regularly.
  • Be open to change. It cultivates innovation and creativity. Implementing our Parent Talk Blog and Facebook page are just a couple of examples of how our volunteers encouraged me to push the envelope and think outside the box.
  • It has been demonstrated to me over and over again that one person can indeed make a difference. At the top of my list is the story of a single mother who literally changed the course of this program. Thousands of families benefitted from her generous donations.
  • I am compelled to give more and do better each and every day, because I am surrounded by those who give more and do better each and every day.
  • The best way to get something done: ask a volunteer. When we work together, we can achieve so much more.

From my heart to yours … thank you for your continued dedication and abundant contributions!

Happy National Volunteer Week!

– Deanna Robb, Parenting Program Director

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Wendy MacKenzie

Parents with their four children

Wendy and Greg with their children, Caitlin, James, Maggie and Charlie

We’ve all heard clichés about the far-reaching effects of small things: Drop a pebble in the middle of a pond and watch the ripples reach out to the shore. When a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, it can cause a storm across the globe.

But there is no doubt that this “butterfly effect” is very real, and can be seen every day in the Beaumont Parenting Program. A seemingly small decision in one family ends up touching countless lives. Such is the case with BPP volunteer Wendy MacKenzie.

Almost 11 years ago, Wendy was offered the opportunity to be part of a parenting group through the BPP when her first child was born. She decided to join, and that experience “was so invaluable to [her] that [she] knew [she] wanted to assist in creating that sense of community for other first-time parents.” So Wendy became a BPP volunteer.

Throughout her 10 years of volunteering with the program, she held the roles of Group Leader, Tour Guide, Parenting Partner, and currently, Office Volunteer. And in that time, Wendy’s efforts to create that sense of community she felt with her daughter’s group created the butterfly effect of a warm touch to innumerable families. As the ripples in the pond hit the shore and rebound back to the pebble, so does the feeling of community Wendy spreads comes back to her. She told me a story of a family she had guided on a hospital tour stopping her at Target and thanking her for her assistance. She said that contact “gave her a high for the rest of the day.” I am absolutely certain that Wendy spread that high to every person she came into contact with that day, with a kind word or an engaging smile – thereby strengthening that sense of community even more.

Wendy is the mother of four children: Caitlin (10), James (8), Charles (3) and Margaret (1). She lives in Beverly Hills with her husband, Greg, and their kids. Wendy enjoys scrapbooking, photography and reading. Her favorite book is “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger and her favorite children’s book is “The Girl with the Silver Eyes” by Willo Davis Roberts. She describes herself as a “crazed” fantasy football fan with an impressive winning record. She also enjoys game night with her kids, especially “Exploding Kittens” (which I really have to go find because with a name like that, it has to be fun!).

Mom and daughter closeup

Wendy with Caitlin

I like to ask volunteers to find out what their kids’ favorite thing about them as a parent is. Out of the mouths of babes, Wendy’s kids answered: “I like when you talk to me,” (Charlie, 3). “You have nice, dark brown hair,” (James, 8) and “You are almost always there for us. I mean, sometimes you’re not home.” (Caitlin, 10). Well, Caitlin, it’s clear that when your Mom’s not home, she’s being there for the BPP and its families. So thanks for sharing your Mom’s butterfly wings!

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program Volunteer

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Maleita Walsh

Maleita Walsh with her family

Parenting small children takes a great deal of love, patience and energy. Parenting adult children takes no less love or patience, but it does require less day-to-day energy. As we know from the first law of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created or destroyed but can be transformed. So what does a mother do with her excess energy when she goes from parenting small children to parenting adult (and nearly adult) children? Meet the answer in Parenting Program volunteer Maleita Walsh.

Maleita Walsh is a 44-year-old mother of three. She and her husband, Matt, recently moved from Rochester Hills to Oakland Township. They have three children: Mitch (20), Maddie (18), and Lanie (15). Mitch and Maddie are both students at the University of Michigan. Lanie still lives at home, attending high school and being very involved in dance. The Walsh family loves to travel, and have taken trips together to Italy, Costa Rica, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany. Maleita also enjoys photography, scrapbooking and reading. Some of her favorite kids’ books are by Kevin Henkes and Patricia Polacco, as well as All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan.

When Maleita’s children were small, she left her career in Marriage and Family Psychology to become a full-time parent. She poured her time and energy into her children and their activities. As a regular feature at their schools and sporting events, she volunteered her time in both arenas. Maleita continued to spend the energy of her passion for parenting and family on her children and their activities as they grew from small ones to tall ones. Maleita’s daughter, Maddie, says that her favorite thing about her mom as a parent is “(her) attentiveness and ability to know exactly what (her children) need at the right time. (She) is really good at knowing when (they) need a hug or some space or someone to talk to, and really good at listening and giving good advice.”

However, as her children’s need for her energy lessened, Maleita searched for a new outlet for her passion. Enter the Beaumont Parenting Program. She heard about the program from a friend, and thought it was the perfect place for her. Since then, she has served as a hospital visitor and hearing screener for almost two years. Her favorite thing about her roles for the BPP is when she can reassure new parents and let them know that it will get easier.

So as Maleita’s children grew, the energy she spent to turn needy infants into inquisitive toddlers into learning children into productive adults transformed into the energy she uses to start new parents on their own energetic journey in the passion of parenting. Thank you, Maleita, for both your energy and passion!

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program volunteer


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