This I Believe

Noelia - Los Angeles, California
Entered on June 18, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that if you give, you will receive and be rewarded; I believe in volunteering.

Last summer, I heard about volunteer work in UCLA’S Hospital and because I hope to be a pediatrician one day I applied to the program. First we had to attend a general orientation. Then if we were interested in the Child Life program, a program in Mattel’s Children Hospital that helps terminal patients by providing an activity room and a group of volunteers who help the children and nurses with needs, we had to attend another orientation. After that there were interviews, background checks and more orientations. I even remember a specific day that was a real struggle. I had to leave school early for an interview, then get a background check, and then take a picture for the Identification Card requisite. There were even complications because a California I.D. was required to get a background check, so I then went to the DMV. It was a very long process—so not surprisingly out of fifteen people who applied, I was the only one who ended up volunteering. I think I showed a lot of dedication and had a lot of struggles especially that day, but my experiences gained from volunteering balanced out the challenges.

While volunteering at UCLA I met Natalie, my favorite patient. She was a young girl with heart and lung problems. She was very optimistic and made everyone smile, despite her limited speech. I became so close that I was very happy when she had the chance to go home and smiled every time she grinned when I found her favorite movie in the toy room. I never lost hope that she would be cured one day, and even though she never was, she taught me more than I ever would have thought a little girl and her family would. Her family never gave up on her, even on the hard days when she couldn’t even stand up. The family fundraised to help pay for extra treatment, came to visit her every single day and even stayed overnight. They brought a sense of unity to the hospital. They united the doctors, volunteers, nurses and administrators, by feeling something other than sorrow towards Natalie. Personally her family taught me that no matter how difficult the situation can get, I shouldn’t lose hope or give up so quickly. And I hold it true because there I was going through a lot of trouble just to volunteer, but I love and enjoy it now. I got to meet wonderful people, and learn about what doctors do every day. I do believe in giving and receiving because volunteering at UCLA and working with little Natalie, taught me that.