April 15, 2019

An experience Charlene James had at Texas Children’s Hospital years ago made a lasting impression, prompting the now veteran volunteer to give back to a place she has come to love.

Decades ago, James’ daughter spent a month at Texas Children’s Hospital due to a case of viral meningitis. During her stay, Texas Children’s doctors, nurses and other staff and clinical personnel cared for her child just as she had hoped – with tender loving care, and for that, James is forever grateful.

“I said then that when I retired, I would give back to the place that took such good care of my daughter,” James said. “I have, and I love it.”

For the past 10 years, James has given her time and much of her heart to Texas Children’s Hospital, primarily holding babies in the Newborn Center and also taking on positions on The Auxiliary to Texas Children’s board, including president and currently financial officer.

James’ service and the contributions of so many like her were celebrated last week during Volunteer Appreciation Week. Filled with various activities, the five-day affair included a social mixer, lunch, and special presentation from Joel Cowley, President and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

In his role, Cowley is responsible for the efforts of more than 34,000 volunteers and 120 full-time staff in conducting a 23-day event that draws nearly 34,000 livestock show entries and an annual attendance of more than 2.4 million.

During his presentation, Cowley said he has a great appreciation for volunteers and the value they have to an organization. He said the number of volunteers working the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo has doubled in the past 15 years, and that without such a dedicated volunteer force, the event wouldn’t be such a huge success.

“The impact our volunteers have on the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is immense,” Cowley said. “The fact you are at Texas Children’s providing support and care to patients, families and caregivers is an incredible value as well.”

Director of Volunteer Services Paige Schulz said the more than 1,000 Texas Children’s volunteers who support patients, families and hospital staff through a number of assignments throughout the Texas Children’s system are the heart and soul of the organization and that each and every one of them are deeply appreciated.

“We are so thankful for the time and talent our volunteers dedicate to Texas Children’s,” she said. “Our organization wouldn’t be the same without them.”

According to many volunteers, they wouldn’t be the same without Texas Children’s.

Volunteer Herb LeDee said the two days a week he spends volunteering at the front desk of the Outpatient Building in The Woodlands are some of his best.

“Every day is a fun day,” he said. “When I leave, I feel complete.”

LeDee was named Volunteer of the Year during last week’s festivities. He was one of the first volunteers in The Woodlands and has the most service hours and Caught You Caring awards of any volunteer in that area.

If you are anyone you know is interested in volunteering at Texas Children’s, click here for more information.

December 11, 2018

We are getting ready for the holidays at Texas Children’s, and both the Medical Center Campus and the Woodlands campus hosted their annual tree lighting ceremonies to kick off the season.

On November 28, over 200 people attended The Woodlands campus’ second annual Tree Lighting event. Volunteer Services and Child Life arranged a fun filled holiday experience for patients, their families, and The Woodlands community. The event began with carols from the Caney Creek High School Choir on the lobby staircase. Moments later, everyone gazed and applauded as Santa Clause strolled down the same staircase toward the Christmas tree.

The Woodlands Vice-President, Trent Johnson, welcomed everyone and thanked the community partners for attending, and proceeded to introduce Santa, who magically lit the Christmas tree. As some kids lined up to take pictures with Santa, other played games, participated in arts and crafts, and indulged in the refreshments that included the a hot cocoa bar and tons or sweet treats.

Many Woodlands community partners helped this event come together this year, such as: The Newfield Exploration, the Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Caney Creek High School Choir, The Woodlands Art Council/Woodlands Children’s Museum, The Junior League of The Woodlands, Ray Larson Realty, and Texas Children’s Hospital partner, Morrison’s catering.

“The Tree Lighting event was a fun and exciting way to start of the holiday season,” Manager of Patient and Family Services, Cynda Parrish said. “Because of our wonderful community partners we were able to provide a festive and engaging experience for our patients and families. This resulted in our attendance doubling this year! We look forward to continuing this annual tradition at our campus each year.”

The very next day, Senior Vice President of Texas Children’s Hospital, Tabitha Rice kicked off the annual tree lighting event hosted by The Auxiliary to Texas Children’s Hospital and Volunteer Services, located on The Auxiliary Bridge of the Medical Center campus. With the help of a lucky patient, the bright lights magically turned on and Santa’s HO HO HO could be heard as he and Mrs. Clause walked down the hallway. Santa also visited patients who were not able to leave their rooms, and St. John’s School’s Kantorei choir sang holiday carols to more than 50 patients and their families.

“This event has become a treasured tradition for ringing in the holidays at the hospital,” Director of Volunteer services, Paige Schulz said. “The tree lighting is so special because it brings holiday cheer to the hospital in a way patients and families might not be able to otherwise experience when caring for a sick or hospitalized loved one. It is a pleasure to sponsor the event and The Auxiliary and Volunteer Services look forward to continuing the tradition for years to come.”

With the holiday season upon us, there’s plenty of cheer left for patients, families and employees throughout the rest of the month. View photos below from both tree lighting ceremonies.

February 13, 2018

For nearly 17 years, Maryann Macey has volunteered with the Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology at Texas Children’s Hospital – an opportunity that she describes as very rewarding.

“It is amazing to see all of the progress our organization has made in advancing research to help our physicians at the Blue Bird Circle Clinic diagnose and treat patients with neurological diseases,” Macey said. “It is an honor to be a Blue Bird volunteer and work with such an outstanding group of women.”

On February 6, Macey and 100 Blue Bird members including many of Texas Children’s employees, staff and leaders, attended a special luncheon at the Pavilion for Women to celebrate the Blue Bird Circle’s 95th birthday. The event included a $1.9 million check presentation from the Blue Bird Circle to Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine. A large portion of this gift will support neuroscience research and training.

Since 1998, the Blue Bird Circle has supported the Clinic for Pediatric Neurology at Texas Children’s with millions of dollars in grants, as well as thousands of volunteer hours. Blue Bird volunteers devote countless hours at the Clinic and The Blue Bird Circle Resale Shop which has helped to raise awareness in the community about pediatric neurological disorders and highlight the incredible work being done at Texas Children’s to improve the quality of life for neurology patients.

“The words, “Blue Bird Circle,” are synonymous with its members’ generosity, volunteerism, commitment and dedication,” said Texas Children’s CEO Mark A. Wallace. “Members of the Blue Bird Circle have been the catalyst for so much of what has happened in pediatric neurology in the past 20 years. The care we provide, the research we conduct because of the Blue Birds benefit the patients we serve here and children with neurological conditions all over the world.”

During the luncheon, Dr. Gary Clark, Chief of Neurology and Developmental Neuroscience, spoke about the tremendous growth of the neuroscience program at Texas Children’s and shared examples of the research progress that has been made through our partnership with the Blue Bird Circle. To treat patients with an enzyme deficiency in the form of Batten disease, Texas Children’s is one of the few sites that provides therapy to these patients by surgically injecting the synthesized enzyme directly into the brain thereby halting this degenerative form of Batten disease. Texas Children’s also is using novel approaches to treat patients with spinal muscular atrophy, a disease of the nervous system where the spinal cord degenerates due to defects in the SMN1 gene. The treatment involves injecting a DNA molecule into the spinal fluid that turns latent gene into an effective one that makes the deficient protein.

“We are contemplating similar treatments for Angelman and Rhett syndromes,” Clark said. “We are so grateful to Texas Children’s Blue Bird Circle Research Center in collaboration with the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s for helping us make these research breakthroughs possible, and I am excited about what the future holds for pediatric neurology.”

Guest speakers at the event also included Dr. Charles Gay, medical director of Neurology at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, and Dr. Robert Zeller, medical director of the Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology. Texas Children’s Chief of Palliative Care Dr. Tammy Kang delivered the keynote address on the interdisciplinary palliative care program and how it supports patients and their families.

Prior to the luncheon, the Blue Bird members met with neurosurgeon Dr. Daniel Curry and Chief of Critical Care Dr. Lara Shekerdemian to tour different sections of the Legacy Tower which will open on May 22.

For more information about Blue Bird Circle, click here.

June 13, 2017

On May 10, Direct Energy, one of Texas Children’s faithful supporters, generously donated about 200 toiletry kits to the hospital. The kits will be distributed to families in an effort to make their stay at the hospital easier and to ensure their focus stays on their child.

About 80 Direct Energy leaders assembled the toiletry kits during a team building activity benefitting the community. The kits are packed with items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, antibacterial lotion, soap, shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream and more.

“Direct Energy is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives, and one way we are doing that is through our partnership with Texas Children’s Hospital,” said Jessica Mahaffey, vice president of external affairs for Direct Energy. “Our employees find volunteering and supporting the mission of Texas Children’s Hospital a very meaningful way to give back to the community by helping children and their families when they need it most.”

In 2015, Direct Energy committed $5million to the expansion of Texas Children’s Heart Center, the largest corporate commitment ever made to a Texas Children’s campaign. In addition, Direct Energy and one of its family brands, One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating, have volunteered in many activities in support of the hospital.

To date, more than 500 Direct Energy employees have volunteered over 1,188 hours at both the hospital and at Direct Energy offices, assembling various craft packets for patients and families. Twice a month employees volunteer at the hospital, either creating themed crafts with the children in The Zone or making snow cones for patients and families, delivering tea and cookies to parents and delivering games, craft, toys, and smiles with the Direct Energy Fun Cart on patient floors.

Employees also collect toiletry items from Direct Energy colleagues, which are then delivered monthly to the Ronald McDonald House at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Direct Energy is also a proud partner and philanthropic supporter of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Funds raised for this network of 170 children’s hospitals across the United States and Canada, including Texas Children’s Hospital, are used to support research and training, purchase equipment, and pay for uncompensated care-all to save and improved the lives of children.

“Texas Children’s Hospital is so fortunate to have Direct Energy as a community partner. Volunteerism is a core value at Direct Energy and is modeled at every level of the organization,” Director of Patient Support Services Paige Schulz. “In just two short years, the employees at Direct Energy have made a meaningful and lasting impact on the patients, families and staff of Texas Children’s.”

About Direct Energy
Direct Energy is one of North America’s largest energy and energy-related services providers with nearly five million residential and commercial customers. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE: CNA), one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and four provinces in Canada. To learn more about Direct Energy, please visit www.directenergy.com.

About One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating

About One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating® is currently ranked as the #1 HVAC franchise in Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Franchise 500 (January 2017) and #30 overall. One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating puts an emphasis on trust, customer service and courtesy. Franchised One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning locations are independently owned and operated businesses. One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning is part of the Direct Energy family of brands. ©2017 Clockwork IP, LLC

April 18, 2017

Help our patients by becoming an extension of our fundraising team

April is National Volunteer Month. If you are looking for a great volunteer opportunity, look no further: Become an Online Advocate for the patients at Texas Children’s Hospital!

Online Advocates serve Texas Children’s patients by being an online volunteer. The group shares Texas Children’s social posts and email messages that include ways to support our patients and opportunities to send some fun and well-wishes their way.

Celebrate National Volunteer Month by joining Online Advocates today!

Here’s what you can expect when you join the team:

  • Advanced information about upcoming campaigns and ways to help
  • Quick, easy and impactful opportunities to assist with fundraising by sharing content online
  • A convenient way to volunteer – on the go from your phone or from the comfort of home

Every time you share, you’ll build an even bigger community to lift up our patients and their families.

Sign up to become an Online Advocate today at waystogive.texaschildrens.org/onlineadvocates

March 21, 2017

The Auxiliary Gift Shop recently opened its new location on the first floor of the Pavilion for Women.

The gift shop replaces the Pavilion Express gift shop near the Fresh Bistro and is conveniently located for patients, families, employees and volunteers just off the main lobby of the Pavilion for Women.

The shop features a variety of gifts, fresh flowers, candy, snacks and drinks. Its hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

October 11, 2016

101216chroniclepromisead250Texas Children’s is the honored sponsor for every Tuesday’s “Houston Legends” series. For more than 20 weeks, we will showcase the legendary care Texas Children’s has provided since 1954, and focus on milestone moments in our unique history. Also, a complementary website offers a more detailed look at our past, our story and our breakthroughs.

On the right is the Texas Children’s ad that is featured in this week’s Chronicle. Click the ad to visit our companion website at texaschildrens.org/legendarycare. The website will change weekly to complement the newspaper ad, which will be published in section A of the Chronicle on Tuesdays for the next several weeks. We also will spotlight this special feature weekly on Connect, so stay tuned to learn and share our rich history.

Click here to visit the Promise website.