Kids First

A Ray of Light

Meet Doris Bell, a Sunshine Ambassador at Golisano Children's Hospital

- BY PATRICIA LETAKIS

“I’ve been blessed, and I think it is time to give back,” says Doris Bell, a Sunshine Ambassador at the Golisano Children’s Hospital. At 91, Bell is as enthusiast­ic as ever about volunteeri­ng one day a week at the hospital. She sees it as an opportunit­y to interact with children and their parents—something that she enjoys very much. “When I decided to volunteer, working with children was my choice, and Golisano is the perfect place for me,” she says.

Dressed in light-colored pants, a white shirt and a pale blue vest, Bell and the other volunteers are easily recognizab­le to anyone seeking informatio­n or assistance navigating the hospital.

The Sunshine Ambassador is usually the first person you see when the elevator door opens on each floor. They welcome you with a warm smile, something that can go a long way during a stressful time.

Bell has been volunteeri­ng at Golisano for the last two years. She started on the fifth floor, which is home to Barbara’s Friends Hematology/oncology Outpatient Center. “There was a girl, a teenager, her name was Heather,” recalls Bell about one of the patients. “It was a wonderful feeling to see how she improved from treatment. Now she’s in college. She and her mother come by to say hello.”

Later Bell moved to the second floor. “Here we have the arts and crafts room where we keep the little ones busy while they are waiting to be seen by the doctor,” explains Bell.

Among her duties are handing out badges and passes, buzzing families into units, and escorting them to the nurses’ desk or patient’s room. She helps family members find everything from the Flavor Harvest Café and laundry facilities to the medical records office, library and business center. She directs folks to the Ronald Mcdonald room, where they find compliment­ary sack lunches, drinks and snacks.

However, Bell admits that what she likes most about volunteeri­ng at Golisano are the people. “I enjoy interactin­g with the children. A lot of them are young or just babies. I escort them with their parents and try to talk with them,” she says. She also greets walk-ins, who may have been sent here by their doctor for the first time; she tries to make them feel welcome.

Besides the patients and caregivers she assists, Bell comes in contact with doctors, nurses and other medical profession­als. “The staff is always friendly. They always acknowledg­e us.” And that can make a big difference.

To become a Sunshine Ambassador, visit leehealth.org and click “Volunteers.” You will be contacted by Volunteer Resources to schedule orientatio­n, an interview and placement that fits your interest and schedule.

“When I decided to volunteer, working with children was my choice, and Golisano is the perfect place for me.”

—Doris Bell

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