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Volunteer Spotlight: Denver

March 1, 2017

Project Sunshine's Denver Chapter provides Creative Arts and Crafts programming with pediatric patients at Denver Health, through a partnership with the hospital's Child Life Program. Through the leadership of the Chapter Leaders, Karen Nguyen and Min Ma, the group of volunteers brightens the playroom each month and brings joy, fun, and a sense of normalcy to the children and their families. If a child is unable to join the fun in the playroom, the volunteers will deliver engaging activities to a patient's room.

Karen and Min both joined Project Sunshine as volunteers and quickly took on leadership roles. Since becoming Chapter Leaders they have expanded the chapter's activities, recruited more volunteers from their community, and increased the frequency of Project Sunshine's hospital visits.

Last fall, the Child Life Department offered a new volunteer opportunity to Project Sunshine, volunteering with children and teens suffering from emotional difficulties. Karen and Min were eager to expand programming to serve this additional patient population, and in December 2016, they held their first program with Behavioral Health Services at Denver Health. Children and teens ranging from ages ten to seventeen participated in Creative Arts and Crafts activities including tie dying t–shirts, backpacks, and socks. Children also painted sun catchers, colored 3–D velvet wall art, and made snow globes for the winter season. Min remarked, "I was amazed at how close these teenagers were with each other when making crafts as a group. They were helping one another, giving each other ideas, and complementing each other's artwork. The two hours of spreading sunshine was full of fun and endless smiles with these teens. I am extremely grateful that we could introduce a new and fun activity for this unit!"

The chapter has also brightened the halls of this unit with decorations – from a fun sixties theme at their first program to a winter wonderland, the unit was transformed. Karen reflects that when she, "heard the unit didn't get much interaction and lacked decorations in their rooms," she "couldn't wait to come and bring a little sunshine to them!"

The children, teens, and staff had so much fun at the program that they made a handmade thank you card for the Denver Chapter and presented it to them at the end of the program. After such a success, the Denver Chapter now volunteers once a month in this unit, while continuing to bring monthly programming to other pediatric patients at Denver Health. This was all made possible by Karen and Min's dedication and commitment.

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

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