Care Partners has been providing support to pediatric BMT and hematology/oncology patients and their family members since 1983. Volunteers provide non-medical resources, help and encouragement to families at a tremendously difficult time in their lives. Care Partners is a unique volunteer program that is funded by Children’s Cancer Research Fund and only available at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.
Care Partners has a staff of two and approximately 130 volunteers. Volunteers are screened, interviewed, well-trained and supported. The training is intense, covering needed medical information, listening skills, confidentiality, the psychosocial issues of a life threatening disease in a child and practical/protocol issues of interacting with the patient.
Programs for Kids and Families
- Family Volunteers work on-on-one with a patient and family throughout their course of treatment in Minneapolis, providing interactive support and companionship. Family volunteers can do things like spending time with the patient to provide a respite for the caregiver, making and bringing a favorite meal, picking up friends and family from the airport, being with parents during procedures, doing errands and generally being available for the family.
- Unit Volunteers work on the pediatric BMT and hematology/oncology inpatient units. Volunteers provide breaks for caregivers by playing games, reading books, watching movies and other activities with the patient or siblings.
- Single task volunteers Occasionally, a family without an assigned volunteer may want help with errands, transportation or other one-time and infrequent needs. Single task volunteers offer the same type of help as Family volunteers without being assigned exclusively to a single family.
- Clinic Volunteers work in the Journey Clinic providing supervised arts and crafts projects and other activities for patients and siblings. In addition to keeping the children occupied and happy, this service allows parents to talk with doctors alone if they wish.
- Care Bags are delivered to every BMT patient and referred hematology/oncology patient upon admittance. The bags include toys, books, a stuffed animal, blanket, gift cards, snacks and some other items that are useful while in the hospital.
- BMT Toy Closet and Playroom Care Partners helps fund the Toy Closet on the BMT Unit, which offers games, movies and other activities for patient and families. Volunteers also staff the play room on the unit at different times during the day for patients who can leave their room.
- Sibshops A monthly peer support group to address the need of siblings, ages 5-12, whose brothers and/or sisters are facing health care needs. Facilitated by Child Family Life staff.
- Beads of Courage This program is designed to honor the journey children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses take. Each child can tell his/her stories using colorful beads that symbolize the milestones they reach along their journey. Siblings are also encouraged to participate.
- Newspapers, Books, and Notary Services Daily newspapers are provided at the Unit desk and notary services are available upon request.
Volunteers and Donations Needed
VVolunteers who want to work with patients on the units and in the clinic as well as with individual families are needed. If you are interested in volunteering, please go to: www.childrenscancer.org/carepartners , where you’ll find a link to our volunteer application.
The Care Partners Program appreciates financial contributions that are used for special items and programs for patients and families. See the donation option below.
Quotes from families:
“Our volunteer was great. She was there when I needed her and beyond. We all love her.”
“With me needing to remain at home while my husband and son were in Minnesota, we really needed this support. Our volunteer is much more than a volunteer, she’s become a part of our family.”
A long-time volunteer, Robbie, remarked that during her training session, Dr. Mark Nesbitt told the group "If you do this work, your life will never be the same." "How right he was," Robbie said, "I'm still doing the work, and of course we all know how it changes our lives in wonderful and deep ways."
Interested in more information about being a volunteer? Contact Care Partners by phone at 612-273-4518 or 612-273-2951. Or click on Become a Volunteer below to complete an online application.
Donations may also be made by mailing checks directly to:
University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital
2450 Riverside Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55454