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2007: Celebrate National Volunteer Week April 15-21
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Celebrate National Volunteer Week April 15-21

Three Central DuPage Hospital Volunteers Share Their Experiences

WINFIELD, Ill., March 29, 2007 — Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) may be one of the largest employers in DuPage County, but the Top 100 Hospital still has legions of volunteers to assist each day. From the retired gentleman delivering newspapers to the patient rooms with a cheery greeting to the teenage patient care apprentice, volunteers make a tremendous difference in the hospital.

“We have an active base of more than 500 men and women who volunteer regularly,” says Volunteer Services Manager Laurel McDonnell. “We are always looking for friendly people who are interested in donating their time. Since the hospital is open 24-7 our schedule is very flexible.”

Volunteers are surprised at the types of jobs available, and some end up staying in positions much longer than they originally intended.

Val Hendy has been an energetic volunteer at CDH since moving to the area in 1999 and during that time she has been volunteering all over the hospital. Hendy has served as volunteer chairman in the hospital’s coffee shop, as a “pediatric cuddler,” and as chairman and president of the Auxiliary for two terms.

“Since its inception,” says Hendy, “the Auxiliary has raised and donated almost $10 million to CDH.” The funds support many projects for CDH for things like community service programs, wellness initiatives and annual scholarships to area students. The Auxiliary also has helped purchase state-of-the-art medical equipment and items for individual projects like HomeCare Physicians, which provides care for homebound patients.

Currently, Hendy, who lives in Oak Brook, is on the Auxiliary by-laws committee and is the volunteer chairman of the Auxiliary run Wise Penny Resale Shop in Wheaton. “At the Wise Penny,” Hendy beamed, “you can find all kinds of second-hand treasures in great condition. I work specifically with restoring paintings to sell in the shop.” Being a great supporter of volunteer work Hendy advised, “Choose something to expand your mind and your horizons for your volunteer work. If you find something you are interested in, you’ll learn a lot.”

Millie Conforti, 76, has been volunteering her time at CDH for 13 years… and she loves it. “Volunteering is a great way to meet people and enjoy yourself,” said Conforti. Volunteers at CDH contribute over 70,000 hours of service every year. There are many ways to volunteer time at CDH – whether it entails working directly with patients, with hospital visitors or behind-the-scenes. 

Conforti, from Bartlett, started volunteering after her mother and sister died one year apart. “I knew I needed to make a change.” Now Conforti can be found in The Gift Shop at CDH two to three days a week. She splits her time between coordinating and pricing merchandise as well as working behind the register. This is very fulfilling work for Conforti as proceeds from The Gift Shop support community service projects, wellness initiatives at CDH and the Auxiliary. Because of this, Conforti finds great satisfaction in her work. 

Conforti encourages others to volunteer. “Bring your heart to your volunteer service and you’ll feel better emotionally, physically and psychologically. The people I volunteer with in The Gift Shop have smiles on their faces. You can’t measure what you get back.” Millie Conforti concluded with some practical advice, “People should volunteer their time doing something they like. Look at me – I’ve been here thirteen years and I always look forward to coming here.” 

Becky Mejdrich, a Winfield native, now lives in West Chicago. “I often see people I know and it’s good to stay connected. I have even gotten some of my friends to volunteer here,” Mejdrich said. “It makes you feel really good knowing that you have gotten someone else into volunteering. There is so much good that can be done.”

Her first four years were spent between the hospital’s coffee shop and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as a “pediatric cuddler.” At the coffee shop Mejdrich was always able to brighten smiles of guests who were visiting at the hospital. As a cuddler, Mejdrich relieved parents by comforting their children with hugs and crafts while they took a much needed break. “I love kids,” said Mejdrich. “Building relationships with families and being able to make children smile really makes a difference.” 

For the last seven years until now, Mejdrich is enjoying crafts with children in the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology department. At CDH, this pediatric team is doing more to help children beat cancer and to cope with the emotional, social and developmental challenges that cancer and hematology disorders bring. And Mejdrich, with an ample supply of modeling clay, stickers and glue, has no problem making the children smile.

Crafts and other activities are just some of the ways “pediatric cuddlers” help older children take their mind off their illness or pain. Time spent simply being a child is very important for their well being and emotional stability.

“The kids make the difference for me. They always amaze me.” Becky Mejdrich embodies the spirit of volunteerism as an active volunteer, enjoying her eleventh year providing service to the hospital and CDH patients. 

For more information about volunteering at Central DuPage Hospital, contact Laurel McDonnell at (630) 933-2252 or you can visit www.cdh.org for an application online.

About Central DuPage Hospital

Central DuPage Hospital is a nationally recognized 361-bed facility located in Winfield, Illinois, a suburb west of Chicago. It is a leading center for surgical innovations and was one of the first institutions in the nation to offer minimally invasive heart surgery, robotic-assisted surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery with bio-engineered bone protein and was the first Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in DuPage County.

An affiliation with Children’s Memorial Hospital (www.CMHatCDH.org) provides children in the suburbs west of Chicago access to the pediatric and neonatal specialists of Children’s Memorial.

The hospital is an interdependent network of healthcare organizations and services, including convenient care centers, occupational health services and a full range of options for senior living, home health and hospice care. For more information or to find a doctor, visit www.cdh.org or call (630) 933-4CDH.

Media Contact:
Amy Jo Steinbruecker