The Pascale’s Pals – MU Student Chapter in Columbia, Mo., has earned the Award for Excellence from the Midwest Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals. The award was presented on Thursday, Nov. 3, during an awards luncheon at the Missouri Hospital Association’s 94th Annual Convention & Trade Show in Osage Beach, Mo.
The goal of Pascale’s Pals is to ease the burden on families and provide happiness to children during their hospital stay. The program pairs university students with adolescent inpatients at University of Missouri Health Care’s Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Student volunteers apply, and selected participants are trained through a formal onboarding process.
The student volunteers provide crafts, entertainment, music, individual and group play opportunities, and special holiday activities to help young patients feel less disconnected during their stay. Within the first few weeks of a child being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, volunteers deliver a personalized Pascale’s Pals basket to the child. Each basket includes a Bible and spiritual books for the parents, toys, games, music puzzles and journals specifically chosen for each family member’s needs, and special gifts requested by the child.
“The student chapter does their own fundraising to support the program and have purchased blue shirts to help patients and staff identify them,” said Kay Steward-Wright, Manager of Volunteer Services and Patient Support Services at MU Health Care. “The patients really appreciate what the volunteers provide, but the volunteers say they, ‘get more from volunteering than they give.’”