Merry hospice volunteers: Santa and Mrs. Claus bring cheer to kids and families in July
Posted by Chris Rechsteiner, Volunteer Supervisor
Santa and Mrs. Claus have a special place in their hearts for JourneyCare kids, all year long! And they both are joining JourneyCare to host Christmas in July in the south suburbs this summer!
It all started over a cup of coffee and a conversation I had with Nancy Sullivan. Nancy was ready to volunteer for JourneyCare and be a care companion for our patients. Nancy shared with me that she is the wingman to a very prominent historical figure … Santa!
Nancy explained that her husband, also known as Steve Sullivan, spent much of the past Christmas season visiting our CareCenters and pediatric patients at their homes. It was obvious bringing holiday joy is their mission, and they were happy that JourneyCare gave them the opportunity to help in this way.
“Steve and I started just last year as Santa and Mrs. Claus, and we also started volunteering at JourneyCare last year,” Nancy shared. “We knew we wanted to visit children with medical needs and learned we needed hospice training to do so. Steve found JourneyCare online, reached out and heard back immediately. So, we jumped in with two feet. Within months of initial training we were called to do Santa visits, and we hope to do even more visits this year.”
Visiting patients was a perfect fit. But the Santa season is short and Nancy and Steve both realized that they wanted to be more involved all year around.
Maybe there was an opportunity to bring Santa back from the North Pole. I had to ask, “Do you think Santa would come for a July visit?” After having a family meeting, the Clauses said, “YES!” JourneyCare’s Kids Who Care now had a theme for their upcoming July CareShop: Christmas in July!
Christmas in July CareShop
This drop-in event is one of the many opportunities kids and teens will have throughout the year to plan projects and events in our service areas. Kids involved in the Mokena area summer club will run this event to give families in the south suburbs a chance to learn more about JourneyCare’s mission and give to the families we serve.
The CareShop will be held at the Frankfort Library on Thursday, July 12 and is open from 4-7 p.m. The summer club participants will lead crafts, organize the collections, and help families with a summer Santa photo. Families will be invited to bring stocking stuffers, crayons and coloring books. When kids visit Santa, they will tell him their “give” list versus their “want” list. A giveback board will be covered with the kid-inspired ideas. The craft projects and collections are designed to bring our pediatric children a little joy. Patients who have children in the family and siblings of our pediatric patients will also be the recipients of this day.
History of kid and teen volunteers
JourneyCare has long history of providing opportunities for young people to make a difference. JourneyCare Juniors and our Youth Advisory Board, based in Barrington, have spent years showing that young people can play a huge role in making a difference in the lives of Journeycare patients and families. Kids Who Care was serving the far east suburbs, helping kids give back at library drop-ins and nursing home visits. The program will continue creating new chapters of JourneyCare Juniors throughout our service area, while offering Kits and CareShops to provide more opportunities for youth and families to make a difference.
The Barrington Fourth of July Parade is a great place to meet some of these awesome kids. JourneyCare Juniors and the village of Barrington have played a big part in promoting JourneyCare and our annual Duck Race fundraiser at the parade. Join us as we fill the truck with volunteers, Juniors and staff! Who knows? You may have a Santa sighting.
Thinking about becoming a JourneyCare volunteer?! Check out the many ways you can help out! journeycare.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities.