Posts Tagged 'volunteer profile'

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.

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

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

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Nathan Wright

Nathan Wright, Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer

Nathan Wright participated in the Walk for Miracles,
supporting Beaumont Children’s Hospital

“Volunteers don’t necessarily have the time, but they have the heart.” That quote is from Elizabeth Andrew, an Australian politician. Perhaps she knew the volunteers of the Beaumont Parenting Program, who consistently give of their hearts and their time, even though they often keep little of that time for themselves. That is certainly true of Nathan Wright, the focus of this “The Face of Beaumont Parenting.”

Nathan is a 19-year-old student at Oakland University from Macomb, Michigan. He’s studying elementary education to become a teacher, and says that his favorite children’s book is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. He serves the BPP as a hearing screener, and a tour guide for the Maternal Fetal Health unit. Tour guides provide prospective parents information about the facilities and services that Beaumont Health has to offer as these families bring their new babies into the world. Tour guides are often the first face that new parents put to the hospital experience, apart from their OBs, and they’re critical to the start of a great Beaumont experience for those families.

It isn’t surprising that Nathan’s favorite quote is the one given above. In addition to attending school, and volunteering in dual roles for the BPP, he’s also a recreational aide in Shelby Township. Beyond all of that, Nathan also does volunteer work for Circle K (an organization for college students, affiliated with Kiwanis, which promotes leadership, service and fellowship), Kids Against Hunger (whose mission is to fight hunger in children in the U.S. and around the world), and Meals on Wheels (which provides home delivered meals to homebound people in need). All of the heart Nathan gives to all of these organizations probably accounts for the fact that he feels he has little time — so little time, in fact, that he didn’t list any hobbies when I asked what he did in his spare time. (What’s spare time? Right, Nathan?)

With respect to his role as a BPP volunteer, Nathan says that he chose to volunteer to “give back to the community and because (he) love(s) the hospital environment.” He goes on to say that his favorite part of being a BPP volunteer is “meeting all the different patients and their families, and getting to know them in such a small amount of time.”

On behalf of the BPP, I would like to thank Nathan for the time, and the heart, that he gives to the families of the BPP. It seems certain that this young man will make the transition (just like the Very Hungry Caterpillar) from a caring college student who makes a difference to parents and their little ones, to an amazing elementary school teacher who makes a difference to little ones and their parents.

– Nicole Capozello is a Parenting Program volunteer


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