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Volunteer Spotlight: From Kids for Kids to College Chapter Volunteer

Project Sunshine - Julie Rizzolo

Julie Rizzolo's first encounter with Project Sunshine was from an advertisement in a magazine. A senior in a southern California high school, Julie was struck by Project Sunshine's mission and knew that she wanted to organize a fundraising event with her classmates benefitting Project Sunshine. In 2012, Julie was able to work closely with the national office as a Kids for Kids volunteer to plan her fundraising event, which ended up raising an impressive $1,825.20.

After graduating from high school, Julie started her freshman year at Arizona State University. She maintained a connection with the Project Sunshine office, but ASU didn't have a Project Sunshine chapter on campus when Julie started. When Julie entered her sophomore year she decided to take the initiative to found a new Project Sunshine chapter. This past fall Julie became the Founding Chapter Leader of Project Sunshine at ASU. Her volunteers organize Sending Sunshine programs and host fundraising events on campus, in addition to participating in Direct Service programs at Phoenix Children�s Hospital. The ASU chapter plans and provides all the materials for themed arts & crafts programs for children in the hematology and oncology department at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Julie has had several hospital programs since starting her chapter, but one of the most memorable moments for her occurred during the chapter's first program. It was an interaction she had with one young boy and his mother. When they first entered the playroom for the arts & crafts program, the child was quiet and aloof. After a few minutes Julie was able to encourage him to participate in the activities and he finally began to open up. Soon he was talking about everything under the sun. When the boy's mother asked him if he was okay there, he immediately replied, "Yes!" The mother then turned to the volunteers and whispered, "Okay, I'm going to take a shower and get ready then. Thank you!" Julie then understood that this was the first time in a long while that the mother had time to take care of herself because she knew that her son was enjoying his time with Project Sunshine.

From her initial experience as Kids for Kids volunteer and now as a College Chapter Leader, Julie says,"I love Project Sunshine because of the purpose we stand for and the community that comes along with it. Project Sunshine helps children that are disadvantaged by medical challenges but it doesn�t stop there. We also help the caregivers and families to make an unfortunate situation a little more comfortable. I also love that volunteers are able to grow with the organization as you become older; you go from Kids to Teens to College to Community and Corporate organizations. Project Sunshine is an awesome opportunity to make a difference essentially your whole life if you want to."

More Volunteer Stories of Interest

Sports Illustrated model, Damaris Lewis, volunteered for her second year as a Project Sunshine Dance Camp instructor to empower young women through dance.
Emilio Delgado, who has played Luis on Sesame Street for 40 years, brought sunshine to pediatric patients at Mount Sinai´s KidZone as part of Project Sunshine´s Book Club