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Volunteer Spotlight: UCLA College Chapter

UCLA College Chapter

Naira Goukasian founded the University of California � Los Angeles (UCLA) Project Sunshine Chapter in the fall of 2012. Naira learned about Project Sunshine when a friend of hers researched volunteering opportunities. "Both of us have experienced the pain and heartache associated with having a loved one stay in the hospital for a prolonged amount of time." Naira explained, "We would have loved it if a program like Project Sunshine existed to assert some regularity during the stay. When we saw that Project Sunshine aimed to restore such normalcy, we joined right away."

As a Chapter Leader, it was important for Naira to develop programming that fulfilled the needs of the partner medical facility while working within Project Sunshine�s mission. In this case, Mattel Children´s Hospital�the hospital where the UCLA Chapter volunteers�was especially interested in Project Sunshine's family-centered approach to care. They did not just need activities for children, but also programs geared towards helping parents relax and forget for a few minutes why they are in the hospital.

Project Sunshine not only provides free services to children facing medical challenges, it also provides support to the family members of those children. Since starting, the UCLA chapter has organized programs for mothers, fathers, siblings, and other family members of children staying in the hospital. The volunteers organize arts programs for the parents, such as decorating photo frames for their children while enjoying a warm meal. The arts programs help to provide a creative outlet for parents to express themselves during this stressful time.

"Project Sunshine combines my love for volunteering and for medicine. As an aspiring doctor, I look forward to providing patients with care and treatment, but until [I get my medical degree], Project Sunshine provides me the opportunity to help families. I know the struggles a family faces when their child is in the hospital and I want to play a small part in alleviating their hardships, even if it is just by providing a small meal and a few Craft Kits."

Naira Goukasian
Project Sunshine Chapter Leader

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