A Ray of Sunshine

My name is Amanda Cohen, I am a student at Grand Valley State University with hopes to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (eventually). I just started volunteering at the center this fall but it has already become such a positive influence in my life! I truly believe that the center brings so much to the clients they serve.

What do they provide you might ask?

CONNECTION: It is human nature to want to be in presence of other humans, no matter who you are or what you are going through. However, when dealing with a chronic illness you are often forced to limit the human interaction due to the risk of illness. This does not mean the need goes away, so having the center for families to build connections is extremely important. The families are able to relate on a deeper level because they are all going through similar situations. Sometimes just having someone that you can complain to about the struggles of your daily life, without having people feel sorry for you, is all you need. These connections are what will help heal the emotional aspect of living with a chronic illness, they are vital.

These connections are what will help heal the emotional aspect of living with a chronic illness, they are vital.

A RAY OF SUNSHINE: When dealing with a serious medical diagnosis, you unfortunately deal with tough situations and decisions every single day. It can often feel as if the world is out to get you and you are getting buried by dark clouds amongst a storm. Children’s Healing Center is that ray of sunshine that is peaking through those clouds. It is a place full of happiness, that is available for families to go to step out of that storm for a moment. It gives the families somewhere they can spend time with their children without having to worry about every other aspect of their life. It allows them to HAVE FUN!

Children’s Healing Center is that ray of sunshine that is peaking through those clouds.

A SAFE PLACE: When faced with chronic illness, you are told to be careful about everything you do to ensure your own health. This can be very stressful to deal with day in and day out. Children’s Healing Center is a place where families can trust and feel safe. They don’t need to constantly worry about what their child may do, because they know it is a safe place. They know that the staff and volunteers are committed to keeping the center clean so they don’t have to worry.

While I am actively learning about many of these situations through my time at the center and my formal education, I am also experiencing this in my everyday life. In 2013, I was diagnosed with a chronic heart/lung disease called Pulmonary Hypertension. That diagnosis completely flipped my life upside-down, and I had to relearn how to do life. Having such a serious illness is beyond isolating, and even more isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having such a serious illness is beyond isolating, and even more isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am constantly worrying about who I am interacting with and whether or not they are being safe. Through the pandemic, besides class, the only place I am going to is the center. It allows me to give back to my community in a way that I felt comfortable. It allows me to have weekly interaction with people and not feel as isolated. The reality is that kids like us need places like Children’s Healing Center. It allows us to heal emotionally, which in turn helps us heal physically.