Cuddling Comfort

Pat Rice and Claire Fitzgerald are husband and wife psychologists who have dedicated their time as volunteers at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford for more than 16 years.  After receiving excellent care many years ago for their 3-month-old son at what was then the Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Fitzgerald promised she would return as a volunteer to give back to others what the staff at Stanford had given to her family.

Fitzgerald began her volunteering career here in Patient Relations and continues today. Recognizing the importance of the early stages of life, she also joined the Cuddling Program and today trains new cuddler volunteers. “It has been a great honor,” she says. “I have had the privilege of training new people who share my values.” Fitzgerald is a recent recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, dedicating more than 4,000 volunteer hours.

Wanting to give back to the community, Fitzgerald’s husband, Pat Rice, aspired to do something that made a positive difference in people’s lives. Embarking on a new endeavor, Rice joined his wife in the Cuddler Program and today promises to continue devoting his time as long as he can. “This hospital has become an integral part of our lives and continues to enrich us every time we volunteer and spend time in that culture of caring,” he says.

Reaching out beyond Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Fitzgerald and Rice have laid the ground work for a cuddling program in Jerusalem, hoping that it will develop in the near future and be shared in other parts of the world.