Volunteers Honored for Decades of Service

Whether they’re reading bedtime stories, cuddling newborn babies or welcoming visitors to the hospital, volunteers are an important part of the extraordinary care provided by Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

The 2019 volunteer recognition celebration, held April 10 in the Bing Dining Room on the Stanford University campus, honored hundreds of volunteers, including five individuals who have each contributed 20 years or more in service to patients and families at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health and Packard Children’s. For two of the women, the occasion marks 30 years of service. One works with the Roth Auxiliary managing the hospital’s gift shop, and the other is a member of the Monkey Toy program at the Los Altos Senior Center.

Those achieving significant milestones this year include two additional members of the Roth Auxiliary, as well as a specially trained newborn baby cuddler. They represent a diverse group of volunteers who dedicate their free time in support of mother and baby care, play and recreation, support services at the hospital, education and community.

The aim of Volunteer Services is to serve patients and families, also providing a meaningful experience to the volunteers. In 2018, volunteers dedicated more than 69,232 hours, supporting 150 programs at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health.

“The countless hours that the volunteers have given speaks to the dedication of serving the patients, families and staff of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford,” says Maryellen Brady, director of volunteer services. “They know the true power of giving back and are an inspiration to all that serve.”

Volunteers who have each devoted 20 years or more of service are Gloria Levin, Lily Hioki, Bear O’Brien, Anne Horgan and Judy Castaillac.

Gloria Levin, Roth Auxiliary member and volunteer of 30 years, is the head buyer at the gift shop at Packard Children’s. She has been instrumental in the curating of gifts in the shop, which includes stuffed animals, arts and craft supplies, games, branded clothing and jewelry.

Levin first moved to California in 1984, and used her background working in women’s wear to start a high-end Los Altos boutique with her daughter’s mother-in-law. It was at this time that she fine-tuned her expertise in gift procurement. In 1989, Levin was brought in as a buyer in the original gift shop at Packard Children’s, and has devoted more than 1,500 hours of service each year ever since. “I feel very blessed to be doing what I’m doing,” Levin says. “I love the hospital and I love what we do for it.”

Lily Hioki, a sock monkey toy maker, has been a volunteer for 30 years. The Monkey Toy program began as a project at the Los Altos Senior Center in April 1977, and has since blossomed into a regular gathering that meets every Monday. Volunteers get together for some affectionately coined “monkey business.”

They create sock monkey toys from red-heeled work socks, nylon hose, yarn and red ribbons. No doll is the same, and special care goes into individual touches, such as unique faces, ribbon details and pom-pom decorations. The toys are given as special gifts to young patients who may need some extra TLC, and they have become a cherished and recognized icon among families at the hospital.

Bear O’Brien, a member of the Roth Auxiliary, has been volunteering at Packard Children’s for 25 years. Prior to joining the organization, she was an active member of the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary, now known as the Allied Arts Guild Auxiliary.

“I wanted to be [here] because I had a grandson who was very ill and spent a great deal of time in the care of wonderful staff of doctors and nurses until he passed away 15 years ago,” O’Brien says. “The hospital was a warm, welcoming special place for the care of sick children and their families, and it still is the same today in our beautiful new hospital.”

O’Brien helps operate the gift shop where all proceeds fund uncompensated medical care. She helps families choose toys for sick children, or simply offers a listening hear.

Anne Horgan, a trained baby cuddler, has devoted 20 years of service to Packard Children’s. The Cuddler program provides an extra pair of loving arms for premature and sick infants in the NICU.

Cuddlers step in for parents during long hospital stays when occasions require that they be away from their child’s bedside. Cuddlers support the emotional needs of babies by holding, rocking and comforting them. Last year 83 trained volunteers cuddled newborns at Packard Children’s for 7,624 hours.

Judy Castaillac, a member of the Roth Auxiliary, is celebrating 20 years of service. Her mother first inspired her to join the organization, and only recently retired from volunteer service at the age of 92. “My mother was a member and when she described working in the [gift] shop, I thought it sounded like fun.”

Castaillac says the hospital has changed over the years, but the job has remained the same. She believes there is much to be gained by continuing her work. “Volunteering is in my blood,” Castaillac says. “So I’ll be here for a while longer.”


One Response to “Volunteers Honored for Decades of Service”

  1. Kathy Consul

    I am interest in volunteering for the cuddler program. I was wondering how can I sign up? Thank you


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