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Making a Mark
Making a Mark is published bi-annually by the CHOC Foundation. It features CHOC and children?s healthcare news, patient highlights, hospital updates, board member spotlights, and community involvement stories and is mailed to donors who support CHOC with a gift of $250 and more.

Volunter Gives the Gift of Play to Young Patients

Heather Madden has a penchant for helping others, and for her, there’s no better place to volunteer than Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).

Heather first heard about volunteering at CHOC through a CHOC guild member. “At first I wanted to be a ‘cuddler’ in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,” Heather says. “Holding and comforting tiny babies sounded great to me; then I found out there was a three year waiting list. It was important for me to interact directly with the kids, so the volunteer coordinator suggested being a playroom volunteer.”

According to Heather, “I knew it would be very rewarding to help make the hospital stay easier for children battling cancer. After my first day in the Oncology floor playroom, I was hooked.”

Heather has served this important role at CHOC every Monday for the past three-and-a-half years. “The kids enjoy painting, doing crafts and playing games. There’s usually an ongoing game of Sorry, and there’s definitely no shortage of activities and toys for the children to engage in,” Heather explains.

According to Brianne Porchia, Child Life specialist on the Oncology floor, “Heather is a great volunteer; she’s always excited to be with the children and has so much energy. And I know I can count on her when I need her. She even goes to the bedside of children who can’t leave their rooms. She truly is a special volunteer; and a wonderful addition to our team.”

“Some of my friends have asked me how I handle the emotional aspect of volunteering with children who have cancer,” Heather says. “I tell them I think I get more out of it than the kids do. I admire the resilience, good nature and positive attitude of each and every child. Despite everything they’re going through, they still manage to play and just be kids. Being a cuddler hasn’t crossed my mind since I started as a volunteer. My heart is in the Oncology playroom and with all of the kids I play with every Monday afternoon.”


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chocChildren's Hospital of Orange County | UCI University of California, Irvine

Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

CHOC Children's - 1201 W La Veta Ave, Orange, CA. Phone: 714-997-3000. .