WRITTEN BY: SAVANNAH DUFFY | STAFF WRITER
Valentine’s Day is sometimes looked at as a reason to buy chocolate and flowers for someone special, or maybe going out with some friends to watch Dead- pool defeat some bad guys. For the volunteers of the “Beloved” ministry, Valentine’s Day’s approach is a time to gather, as they did on Tuesday night when they made a variety of Valentine’s Day cards for the children who live in the Helen Bernardy Center at the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.
“Beloved” is a PLNU student minis- try that specifically serves the children in the Helen Bernardy Center who live there indefinitely because they are too medically fragile to live elsewhere. It is co-lead by PLNU students Sabrina Schreiber, Kate Draeger, Claudia Castilleja, and Caitlin Macfarlane. According to Director of Community Ministries Dana Hojsack, the Beloved program has been working with Rady Children’s Hospital for the last 10 to 15 years, and this is her fourth year as the director.
According to Hojsack, Beloved volunteers go to the hospital to spend inter- active time with the children there, ranging from infants to adults. PLNU junior Shreiber said that most of the children in the Helen Bernardy Center are unable to speak, so hands-on-crafts and sensory activities are often used for interactive purposes between volunteers and the children.
However, with current flu season restrictions at the hospital keeping un-
authorized volunteers from visiting the children, Beloved has had to get more creative at reaching out to the kids by hosting craft nights to make and send cards to the hospital.
“I’m not crafty, but it was super fun to go and make Valentine’s Day cards for kids who would appreciate a Valentine,” said PLNU Freshman Julia Robison, who attended “Beloved’s” Valentine’s Day card night.
When flu season restrictions are not an issue, Beloved volunteers are able to visit the hospital and more directly inter- act with the children there.
According to Jenelle Nettles, Appointment Coordinator and Recreation Therapist Assistant in the Helen Bernardy Center, the Beloved ministry has a huge impact on the children in the hospital because it gives them positive inter- actions with the volunteers. The one-on- one time that the children get with the volunteers is important because without the volunteers, Nettles said that the staff does not have much time to spend individually with the children. She added that many of the children do not have family nearby to see them.
Nettles said, “[Beloved] makes a difference in the kids and it makes a difference in the families who aren’t always able to be there with their kids.”
Rose McGowan is a junior PLNU student who has regularly volunteered with Beloved for the last three years. McGowan said that her first visit to the hospital with Beloved included some frustration. She was trying to interact with a patient who seemed unresponsive to her.
“But then, I was holding his hand, and he squeezed my hand after I said something,” said McGowan. “And I knew that he heard me and that I was making a difference.”
Junior Castilleja talked about the benefits of being able to visit the hospital when some of the children are sick. Ac- cording to Castilleja, when a child is sick and has to stay in his or her room, a volunteer visiting that child clearly brightens the child’s day.
While Beloved is making a difference in the lives of the children in the Helen Bernardy Center, students say that the ministry is affecting their lives as well.
“It grounds me, because in the middle of all the stress of college and working and financial aid, to go…and spend quality time with these kiddos is so re- warding,” McGowan said.
Castilleja added that the kids have shown her God’s love in countless ways, and that she still sees that in them every time she visits.
Hojsack said that even with flu sea- son restrictions preventing students from visiting the hospital, the positive side is that it gives Beloved volunteers a chance to build community with each other as they work to send cards or crafts to the hospital.
“We can’t underestimate how much that [being loving] affects people and how much we can be the hands and feet of Christ…” Hojsack said.