Volunteer finds her calling

Published On 05/02/2016

Four years ago, Memphis high school student Savannah Shelton spent a week volunteering at Le Bonheur. Between pushing the beverage cart through the halls and making art projects with patients, Savannah found her calling. The University of Memphis junior is studying Spanish and child development with the plans to become a bilingual child life specialist.

Each summer, the VolunTEEN program hosts about 24 high school students in three, one-week sessions. The teens learn about medical careers and the impact of volunteers on the community, while serving the patients and families of Le Bonheur.

“The VolunTEEN program was the best part of that summer, and it was one of my favorite summers to date – and that was four years ago,” Savannah said.

When Savannah turned 18, she became a unit buddy and has served more than 120 hours. Each week, she reports to the 11th floor – a unit dedicated to pulmonology patients. There, she finds a list from the nurses of patients who could use some cheer. Savannah loves sparking the imagination of her little friends by pretending to be pirates on a treasure hunt or dueling knights.

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“For a few moments there’s no pressure and no illness, there’s just a kid playing. I can see such a huge change in the kid I saw when I entered the room and the kid I see when I leave,” she said.

And it’s not just the patients and families that benefit from Savannah’s kindness. She makes the staff feel loved and appreciated.

“Savannah always goes above and beyond,” said Volunteer Services Coordinator Allison Smith. “She brings flowers for the staff and even made homemade valentines for our patients.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Le Bonheur, visit www.lebonheur.org/volunteer.