Ken Yeeloy is one of hundreds of volunteers who have generously given their time to enhance the experience for patients and families at BC Children's Hospital.
For National Volunteer Week, which runs until April 25, we wanted to profile Ken and his contributions.
(Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and advice to limit people on-site at BC Children's, we chose to suspend volunteering at the sites as of March 2020. This was a difficult decision as volunteers enhance patient care and are valued colleagues. We look forward to the time when we can re-engage volunteers at our sites.)
Ken always leaves at the end of his volunteer day with a smile on his face.
After taking a step back from a successful but demanding career in video gaming, Ken decided he would spend his new free time volunteering and helping kids at BC Children's Hospital. Since then, Ken has been a standout Child Life volunteer on both the the 6th floor surgical and 8th floor oncology wards.
Ken starts each shift by checking in with a Child Life Specialist and, together, they go over the list of patients who may enjoy a visit. As he enters a patient's room, Ken introduces himself and gets a feel for how everyone is doing. As a father of two teenagers, Ken has tons of experience interacting with kids of all ages. He engages patients in conversations, tries to discover their interests and what they might like to do, whether it's crafts, boardgames or a playing with a special toy. Equally important, Ken reassures parents and offers them a much needed break to get a coffee, lunch or just go for a walk.
Ken shares this beautiful story that illustrates the unexpected but true reward that comes from his time volunteering at BC Children's Hospital:
"I was starting my shift and as I was walking down a hallway, I noticed a little girl that I had spent time with about a month earlier standing at the nurse's station with her mom. As I approached, I paused about 20 feet from her to see if she would recognize me. She turned to face me and after a brief moment, her eyes grew large and a giant smile filled her face. As she screamed out my name she ran over and gave me the biggest hug I could imagine and absolutely melted my heart in the process. She enthusiastically told me all about how she has been beating her Dad at Uno since we played together a month ago and all the presents she got for Christmas.
I had not met her mom before so as she approached, she introduced herself to me and proceeded to tell me that I was her daughter's favorite volunteer and that her daughter kept a note I gave her with her Children's Hospital keepsakes.
It truly felt like I was in a scene from a movie. So what did I do to get this reaction? Did I spend days and days with her? No. I spent a grand total of 45 minutes with her. We played Uno and Mario Monopoly and we probably laughed a good 40 of those 45 minutes!
I didn't think spending such a short time together could leave such a lasting impression. She reminded me that it is the quality of time spent together that truly matters.
If this is the last time I get a reaction like that, I'm okay with it. That was enough to fill my heart for a lifetime. My only goal is to put smiles on kids' faces and as long as I can do that, I think we're all winning."
Volunteering at BC Children's Hospital has had such a profound impact on Ken, so much so, that he is even potentially considering a career as a Child Life Specialist. According to Ken, if he can do this for the rest of his life, he would.
"Volunteering is one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do in your life but, like most things, you get out of it exactly what you put into it. It has given me more perspective on what is really important and impacted where I choose to spend my time and effort. My only regret is not volunteering sooner!"
Born and raised in Vancouver, Ken has many West Coast interests and hobbies, including hiking, skiing, biking, softball and watching his children play baseball and volleyball with his lovely wife of 18 years.