A Good Fit

Published On 12/09/2015

From jewelry-maker to dragon slayer, volunteer meets the needs of Le Bonheur Children

Vadim vertical portraitVadim Sinitsyn, 30, doesn’t come from a medical background. He doesn’t have children, and he’s the youngest of his siblings. He wakes up each morning and goes to work at an investment company, trading commodity futures.

He’s an unlikely Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital volunteer.

And yet, Vadim plays a key role in the success of his community’s children’s hospital. Each week, he spends at least three hours at Le Bonheur as a “unit buddy” – walking up and down inpatient floors, visiting and playing with patients who are by themselves, offering respite to parents and support for staff. Volunteers like Vadim help Le Bonheur take care of more than 250,000 children a year.

Vadim grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, and moved to the United States when he was 13. He majored in mathematics in college and landed a job in Memphis after graduation. When he moved to Memphis, he began looking for ways to connect to the community through volunteering. A friend suggested Le Bonheur, so he decided to give it a try. That was two and a half years ago.

“Before my friend told me about Le Bonheur, I didn’t know this was something I could even do,” he said. “I thought you had to be in medical school or something like that.”

Anxiety about his ability to help children in a hospital setting was cast aside as soon as he visited his first patient. Vadim said he quickly realized that the patients would tell him what they needed, not the other way around.

“As long as you are there, the kids will make good use of you and your time,” he said.

Vadim is part of a community of more than 188 volunteers who spend at least one day a week helping patients. There are as many ways to help as there are numbers of patients who come to Le Bonheur every day. As a non-profit, Le Bonheur relies on the generosity of people to meet the needs of the community’s pediatric population.

Vadim with Juan

Vadim’s volunteering activities have ranged from jewelry-making to dragon slaying. He has also volunteered as a baby hugger, gently rocking and soothing our smallest patients.

“There was a moment once, when I came to help with?a baby who was blind and deaf, and alone,” Vadim recalled. “He was crying so much, but as soon as I held him, he calmed down. It was really emotional, and something like that, it really puts life in perspective.”

We need your help

Volunteers serve an important role at Le Bonheur, and there’s a need for more “unit buddies” on our floors. A few hours of your time could make a real difference in the life of a child. Often, as a volunteer, you will benefit just as much, if not more, than the patients and families you help.

Volunteer opportunities include creating crafts with patients, helping at special events, supporting patients and sibling in the Emergency Department, hosting game days and more. For a complete list of volunteer opportunities, visit lebonheur.org/ways-to-help.