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Patricia and her teacher, Holly, have fun during craft time

Volunteer Opportunities Available at Child's Way
By Lois Thomson


"Mr. Peter" is a regular volunteer at Child's Way®, a center for medically fragile children that is one of the programs of The Children's Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center.  Abby Kirstein, Marketing and Outreach Manager, said that when Mr. Peter is there, "It's so cute because the kids fight over him, they love him so much."  And Mr. Peter says, "Volunteering at Child’s Way has been an extremely rewarding experience.  I look forward to my visit to Child's Way every single week."  Child's Way is looking for more volunteers like Mr. Peter.

Child's Way is a Pediatric Extended Care Center that serves children from newborn to age 21.  It is designed to offer additional or supplemental care for children who need more attention than a regular day care might provide.
For the ones who spend their days at Child's Way, volunteers are needed to assist the teachers.  Kirstein said the day care center is set up just like any other day care center would be.  "It's divided into classrooms by age, and the staff is half teachers and half pediatric nurses.  So on average we have a three-to-one, child-to-adult staff ratio, which is better than what the state requires."

In addition to volunteers who can offer an onsite presence, Child's Way seeks donations of all kinds.  Abby Kirstein, Marketing and Outreach Manager, particularly mentioned toys that have lights or make noises or play music, and/or have textures.  "A lot of our kids have visual impairments, so anything like that is good for stimulation."  She also listed dolls, play kitchen items, larger Lego sets, and batteries, as well as infant care items.  For a complete list, check the website.  "We need everything, always," she said.  "They play so much and go through things quickly."

The volunteers assist the teachers with whatever is going on for the day.  Kirstein said that, just like any other school, the children have their curriculum, along with their activities, such as circle time, story time, and different seasonal events, like harvest day for the fall and a Halloween parade.  "We also have performances come in, we've had the Pittsburgh Ballet, the Science Center.  We can't typically take our kids places because of their equipment, but we try to bring in as many performances as we can."

As for what the volunteers do, she said, "It's pretty general, but they would basically assist the teachers in whatever's going on that day, whether it's craft time or story time or just playing with them."  She emphasized that volunteers don't do anything medical for the children, the time is spent just interacting with them.

Those interested in volunteering at Child's Way must go through a training session, with the next one being offered in the spring.  Kirstein said the session generally lasts four hours, and along with the training, participants must update all their clearances.  Volunteers are asked to volunteer for at least four hours a month, and they can schedule whatever time fits their schedule.  Child's Way is open from 6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

For more information, call 412-441-4884 or visit www.childrenshomepgh.org.



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