Archive for the 'Volunteers' Category

The face of Beaumont Parenting: Lori Irwin

family in front of rocks and waterfalls

Lori Irwin (second from right) enjoys some family time.

Lori Irwin is involved in multiple aspects of the Beaumont Parenting Program. She is a hospital visitor at both the Troy and Royal Oak locations, a “big sister” to new group leaders, a contributor to the BPP blog, as well as a Play, Learning and Reading speaker. She also just started leading her second parent group. Reading that résumé, you would assume that Lori has been with the program for many years, but she mastered all of these service roles in under two years with the program!

For about 36 years, Lori Irwin was a special education educator. She was also a consultant with a book publisher, and is currently a teacher coach. She dedicates her life to helping and bettering people, and you can tell that she is passionate about it, which makes her a natural fit for the BPP. Lori’s favorite quote is from Mark Twain: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” With just one or two conversations with her, you can tell that she embodies what she believes, and that it helps make her a great addition to the Parenting Program.

Lori is a mom of two grown kids, Jeffery (34) and Kaitlyn (31). When asked what the best thing was about their mom, their responses showed just how much Lori impacts the people around her every day, and how dedicated she is to what she does and who she interacts with. Jeffery wrote to her, “There are many favorite parts about you, but the one that comes to mind first is selflessness. The way you put the people that you care about or who you’re trying to help above your needs to make sure they get the attention they require. The way you would drop what you are doing or change your schedule to always be there for the ones you love. Growing up, and even now, I have always felt that you are there for me and will help in any way you can, be it support, love or needs. You always make people feel like you’re their number one fan.” Kaitlyn shared, “My mother is the most gentle and compassionate woman. It is her selfless nature, big heart and smile on her face which makes her a burst of sunshine wherever she is. The stamp she leaves on hearts is permanent and unforgettable; from her days as a special education teacher to the volunteer work that she does in the community, she touches and influences the lives of people everywhere. She is truly the most special person in the world.” Just by reading these views from her children, you can see exactly how Lori is, and know that she always has everybody’s best interests at heart.

When Lori first decided that she wanted to become a volunteer after retiring, she came to the Beaumont Parenting Program hoping to spend her time rocking babies. She was disappointed to learn that “Baby Rocker” is not a volunteer role in the Beaumont Health System. However, when she met the staff of the BPP, she immediately knew that this was a place that she would fit in and be able to use her many talents from her years of being a teacher. She says that the staff are professional, helpful, knowledgeable and fun. The combination of staff support and volunteer roles make volunteering for the BPP satisfying for Lori, and a time that she looks forward to.

Working in the program, Lori learned from all the knowledgeable speakers that there are countless different ways to do things. Everyone wants to raise their baby to be a happy, healthy, and productive person, and there are many paths to that destination. Lori’s advice is that it is OK to spoil your child with all of the love and attention that you can give. The days may go slow, but the years go fast.

 Alyssa Carnagie is a human resources intern with the Beaumont Parenting Program.

Giving thanks to the best of the best

“Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” – Judy Blume

If ever there is a time to celebrate in the Beaumont Parenting Program world, it’s National Volunteer Week. This one-of-a-kind program, focused on supporting and educating new parents, simply would not exist without volunteers. Our Parenting Program volunteers are the best of the best, the cream of the crop. They give from the heart, making an impact that helps build a firm family foundation. This contribution to a healthy start for new families creates a ripple effect with lifelong influence. In a time when parents often feel unsure, judged, and are barraged with unsolicited advice, our volunteers are like a breath of fresh air. Armed with knowledge and experience, they are genuine, neutral, open-minded listeners who give without expectation of anything in return. They give from the heart because they’ve “been there.”

If you ever want to be inspired, place yourself among volunteers.

Every single day I am awed by what our volunteers do and give. Maybe it’s during a new volunteer interview when people explain what led them to share their gifts with us. Sometimes it’s when I observe a volunteer working with new parents, behind the scenes, or helping our amazing nursing staff. It could be when I read a glowing evaluation and get to hear from a new mom exactly what her volunteer meant to her. Or even once a month when I get the privilege of standing in front of a room full of new volunteers eager to begin their journey with the Parenting Program. Truly I often get teary, so moved by all our volunteers give, and the difference they are making, one family at a time.

This is one of those times when the words “thank you” just don’t seem to carry the weight of the gratitude I feel. But for lack of better words, I say it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, from me, from the Parenting Program staff, from our Beaumont Health medical team and administration, and from the families you serve. Happy National Volunteer Week, Parenting Program volunteers!

– Kelly Ryan, LMSW, Parenting Program Director

The face of Beaumont Parenting: Danielle Elder

People volunteer for many reasons, but each reason boils down to an underlying passion. Some volunteers are passionate about the communities they help, others about the service they perform. It is that passion that motivates them to continue giving and being able to make a difference in other peoples’ lives.

Danielle Elder is a Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer who is passionate about the service she performs for the families of the Beaumont community. Danielle has been a newborn hearing screener for the BPP since August 2017, and is currently a full time student at Wayne State University, pursuing her doctorate degree in audiology. She also performs free hearing screenings in the community through Wayne State’s Student Audiological Association. Performing hearing screenings is something that she will be doing once she starts her career in audiology, so her volunteer work is a perfect way to gain experience and to become more engaged in the community.

Audiology is not Danielle’s only passion; she also loves meeting new people and becoming a volunteer for the BPP allowed her to do just that. In fact, she says that one of her favorite things about being a volunteer with the Parenting Program is meeting new parents — chatting with them, and being able to get a glimpse into their stories as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

Although Danielle isn’t a parent herself, she believes that reading to children when they are young is a great way to bond and spend quality time together. She also asserts that reading with your child helps instill a love of reading in them that can and will help them to become more successful in school. She says, “I still remember the time my parents spent reading to me and they are some of my most cherished memories.” Danielle also shares that her favorite picture book as a child was “The Monster at the End of this Book” by Jon Stone.

Being a part of the BPP allows Danielle to meet parents who are going through all the adjustments that come with new babies. She realizes that every person has his or her own struggles and triumphs. She sees that everyone benefits when you treat people with love and respect.

Volunteering with the BPP helped Danielle discover some things she didn’t know about herself, including the fact that she truly enjoys performing hearing assessments on little ones. Her work with the BPP reassured her that she will enjoy what she will do in the future. Danielle’s volunteer experience with the BPP shows again what we often see: That when passionate people give (and give and give), they also receive.

Alyssa Carnagie is a human resources intern with the Beaumont Parenting Program.

The face of Beaumont Parenting: Kimberly Aneiros

mom, dad and young daughter

Kim with her husband and daughter

This blog series has featured many great Beaumont Parenting Program volunteers. Every one of them are members of our local community and chose to give their time and talents to support new Beaumont parents in myriad ways. Today’s volunteer is also talented, giving and supportive. She is assisting new parents with the sometimes-difficult transition into parenthood by serving as an Individual Family Support volunteer. In that role, she communicates with new moms through calls, emails and texts — providing the encouragement and listening ear that new parents so often need. The difference for today’s special volunteer is that she is doing it from out-of-state.

Kimberly Aneiros is a 32-year-old mother of two-and-a-half-year-old Isabelle. Shortly after Isabelle was born, Kimberly and her husband Jeff moved to Chicago from Michigan. That move placed the new family away from the support of their family and friends. Add to that a baby with colic and Kimberly’s suffering from postpartum depression, she truly needed a helping hand. She got that help from the BPP in the form of individual family support.

It was the assistance that Kimberly received that led her to become a volunteer for the BPP herself. Now she reaches out across Lake Michigan to pay back the community that helped her adjust to motherhood across the miles.

Before Isabelle was born, Kimberly worked in human resources. Now she is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys writing, reading, movies and cooking. Kimberly is such a fan of reading that she could not name one favorite book, but rather recommended “Night” by Elie Wiesel, “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri, and “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi for adults. For kids, some of Kimberly’s favorites are “The Crown on Your Head,” “Jamberry,” “Love You Forever,” “Llama Llama Red Pajama,” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Despite all those books, Isabelle’s favorite thing about her mom is not story time, but rather when her mom smothers her in kisses!

Kimberly says that she enjoys volunteering for the BPP because she loves connecting with other moms. She loves reassuring them that they are doing a good job, that “they’ve got this!” She finds it helpful just to listen to the families she supports and let them know that they are not alone.

Because Jeff works out-of-state, Kimberly and Isabelle only see him on the weekends, so they like to make the most of those. Kimberly watches Isabelle squeal with delight every time her dad gets home, and then they share time at the zoo, the park, at church and walking to get donuts. Every weekend Jeff also watches Finding Dory with Isabelle — which I imagine reminds Kimberly of advice she gives and received through the BPP — just keep swimming! (Just maybe not in that lake as winter approaches!)

– Nicole Capozello is Parenting Program staff.

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Chris Purtell

grandmother with 2 granddaughters

Chris with her granddaughters Lily (12) and Amelia (10)

What does a Beaumont Health nurse do when she retires but still wants to continue serving the families she cared for on the Mother Baby Care unit in Royal Oak? She becomes a volunteer for the Beaumont Parenting Program, of course. Today I’d like you to meet Chris Purtell, a volunteer group speaker for the BPP.

Chris is a 70-year-old widow and mother of two. Her daughters Melissa and Laura are 43 and 41 respectively. Chris lives in Royal Oak where she enjoys gardening, crossword puzzles, travelling, and spending time at the pool with her family. While she enjoys that family time, she confided that she is “quite happy” to go places on her own. In addition, Chris enjoys reading so much so that when asked her favorite book, she responded, “almost all of them.” Her favorite children’s book was easier to narrow down; she loves the story about sharing called “Rainbow Fish,” which is beautifully written and illustrated by Marcus Pfister. Chris volunteers as a zoo ambassador, as well as gives time to her church and local school. She also works as a part-time medical skills instructor.

Chris is very close to her daughters and says that they are her role models. When asked what their favorite thing about their mom is, her girls said that she loves them unconditionally and always has their backs. Clearly, that is a street of mutual admiration that travels both ways.

Ten years ago, Chris chose to volunteer for the BPP because she was introduced to them through her work as a Beaumont nurse. She says that the program does “wonderful, glorious things for families.” Chris encourages new parents by exhorting them to relax, reminding them of the phrase, “The days may seem long, but the years are short.” As it is for many of the BPP volunteers, her favorite thing about being a BPP volunteer is “the babies, of course.”

Through her volunteer work with the BPP and its families, Chris learned that she was able to continue her life’s work beyond her retirement. And in so doing, she does wonderful and glorious things for families. Thanks for all you do, Chris!

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program volunteer

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Nichole Rozier and Tonya Davis

close-ups of two women

Nichole Rozier (L) and Tonya Davis make a great team when it comes to leading groups.

I would like introduce you to our dynamic duo. These two amazing Beaumont Parenting Program volunteers who have teamed up to co-lead a number of single moms groups for the BPP.

Tonya Davis and Nichole Rozier first met when they were members of a Single Moms group back when they had their first children. Both women felt the pull that many group members experience to give back to the program and to encourage and educate other new moms. When asked what they enjoyed most about being group leaders, both Tonya and Nichole emphasized that they loved being able to listen to the moms in their groups, oftentimes when those moms felt that no one else in their lives were doing that.

two portraits of young boys

Tonya’s boys are Sebastian (left) and Mason.

Tonya, 26, has two boys: 3-and-a-half-year-old Sebastian and 8-month-old Mason. In addition to volunteering for the BPP, Tonya attends college, works for Ford Motor Co., and volunteers for the social justice department at her school. She loves the book “Goodnight Moon” for her children, but has little time to read for herself beyond her textbooks. A self-identified tomboy, Tonya enjoys taking her kids to the park and the zoo with her partner, Brian. With all that this busy mom has on her plate, it’s little wonder that she identifies her hobby as getting a good night’s sleep! Tonya’s advice to other parents is to trust themselves. Remember that no one knows your child better than you do, so don’t let anyone else make decisions for your child, even the most well-intentioned grandmothers! She also likes to pass on the advice she received as a new mom: Enjoy your children because they grow up so fast!

mom and young son

Nichole with son Anthony

Nichole is a 31-year-old mom to 3-year-old Anthony who shared that he loves when his mom buys him new trains. Nichole also has a baby girl on the way due next year. (Congratulations!) This dedicated volunteer has a very long history of community service; she started volunteering with her family when she was 14! Before leading a parent group, she helped the BPP as an Individual Family Support caller and also lends a hand at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. Nichole is a student like Tonya and worked for the State of Michigan before having her son. Nichole and her partner enjoy taking Anthony to the zoo and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Describing her work for the BPP, Nichole eloquently said that “becoming a volunteer with the BPP was one of the easiest decisions [she’s] ever made. As a participant in the Single Moms group, [she] learned a vast amount of information about parenthood, formed amazing bonds with other moms, and realized that [she] was not alone when facing the challenges of being a new mom. [She] knew from that point on that [she] wanted to provide that same experience and support to other mothers.”

It is easiest to sum up the positivity and empowerment that Nichole and Tonya bring to the families they support by reading their favorite quotes. Nichole expresses drive and hope when she encourages other moms to “never say never!” Tonya reminds families of their blessings and encourages a positive outlook by reminding moms that “there is no such thing as a better life than yours.” With their listening ears, combined talents, and supportive spirits, Nichole and Tonya provide both invaluable service to their families, and powerful link between the volunteers who guided them through the beginning of motherhood, and the many families who they are guiding in turn.

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program volunteer

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Aimee Cisler

woman with mountain backdrop

There is one thing that all of the volunteers for the Beaumont Parenting Program have in common. You might immediately think that would be that they are parents, but that’s not it. It’s passion. The men and women who give their time to benefit the BPP and its families are all passionate. For some, their passion is service; for others, it’s children. And for others, it’s the program itself. The next volunteer I’d like you to meet is passionate about helping others suffering with postpartum depression and mood disorders. Her name is Aimee Cisler.

Aimee, 27, resides in the city of Detroit with her husband Andy. In her day job, she is a social worker for a mother-infant program at American Indian Health and Family Services. In her volunteer work with the BPP, she previously served in the role of hospital tour leader, but she currently aids families as an Individual Family Support caller.

She goes above and beyond in that role by offering to meet with her IFS families in person; Aimee finds she can make an even better connection to her families face to face. She goes on to say that “it feels really rewarding to be able to answer moms’ questions and affirm their choices as a parent. It’s a scary and exciting time and [she] hopes it helps them to know there’s someone like [her] in their corner!” In addition to volunteering for the BPP, Aimee also “lead[s] the Detroit Perinatal Wellness Coalition on a volunteer basis; it’s a gathering of parents and professionals working to create better supports for parents with postpartum mood disorders.” Clearly, Aimee has found ways, through both work and volunteering, to pursue her passion.

In her free time, Aimee likes to read (her favorite book is “Catcher in the Rye”), spend time with her pets, and run and walk. She is a big believer in the physical and mental health benefits of walking. Among her favorite places to get outside and exercise are Riverwalk and Dequindre Cut in downtown Detroit. In 2014, Aimee once again exhibited her passion for the important things in her life when she quit her job and spent three months backpacking in Europe. This trip was a demonstration of Aimee’s favorite quote: “I go to seek the great perhaps”. These were the last words of poet Francois Rabelais, and it is a sentiment more recently embraced by popular author John Green. Aimee has embraced this philosophy as well, even getting the words as a tattoo.

In closing, I’d like to share Aimee’s advice to new parents. When asked this question, it is unsurprising that her message illustrated her passion for helping those with postpartum mood disorders. Aimee would “love all parents to know that it’s OK to not feel super happy all the time. It’s OK to be tired and frustrated, or even sometimes bored! If you aren’t feeling like yourself, talk to a friend, your partner, or your doctor, and they’ll help you get back to feeling good again.”

We’d like to thank Aimee for being one of those friends to BPP families!

– Nicole Capozello is a Parenting Program volunteer.


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