We are so impressed by how many of our au pairs donate their time and talents to community service work. This week’s spotlight is on Laura Edwards. Laura is an au pair from the United Kingdom living with her host family in Virginia and the winner of the National 2016 Au Pair Community Service Awards. She shared the following about her volunteer work at a children’s hospital.
I’m Laura Edwards, an au pair in Charlottesville, Virginia. I started volunteering as a bedside volunteer at the University of Virginia’s Children hospital in December 2015. I wished to give something back to the community with which I had become a part of during my time as an au pair. The university hospital is a very proud aspect of this university town in Virginia and it seemed the perfect place for me to volunteer both for the community and my personal goals.
When I visit the hospital I get to be part of two different but combined programs. Initially I am there as a bed side volunteer giving the children in the hospital the opportunity to play, chat and bring a little bit of joy to their day and to forget about all the tubes and medication around them for that moment. It also allows their parents and guardians to take a break knowing that their child is in trusted and responsible hands, as we are interviewed and background checked before we can start. Another charity, CJ’s Thumbs Up also combines with the volunteer team once a week. Here we work together to provide free meals for the families of children in the hospital. We provide a delivery service to those families that are unable to leave their child’s room due to isolation restrictions.
Sadly, some children are in the hospital over weeks or even months; there are several that I have had the opportunity to meet and each week I can enter their room knowing that I am a friendly face and will only be there to bring the positive news and activities. There are two children that particularly spring to mind, the first I bonded with playing card games. Initially I started by letting him off easily, but having the chance to play with him several times, we play more seriously, and I don’t let him get away with cheating as much. The second child was a young boy with learning disabilities, although he may have not reacted with big smiles but just appeared content, it was the reaction from his team of nurses and doctors that made me feel proud of what I was doing. I was using bubbles and play-doh as sensory based therapy games, when his nurses and doctors personally thanked me for taking the time to play with him and give him the attention both emotionally and for his sensory needs.
The hospital can be a busy place and all the staff do an amazing job helping all the children, but it is equally important that these children can also feel like children and play, especially if they are in there for a long period time, meaning parents have to work to a degree still. I am honoured to be able to help all the families and children over the months I have been there and the ones I will get to meet in the following months.
Contact us to view profiles of au pairs like Laura and to learn how Au Pair in America can be a rewarding cultural experience and child care solution for your entire family.