Volunteers are worth their weight in gold.

No matter what organization they happen to work in, volunteers end up touching countless lives.

They give the gift of their time, their expertise, and enrich the lives of so many by also giving from their hearts.

Our family’s life has been impacted by the kindness of volunteers many times.

Two of our children spent three and four months respectively in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in a hospital that is two and a half hours away from where we live.

To split time between the hospital and life at home with our other children was agonizing, but necessary.

The silver lining was that this hospital is one of the best in the country, and the care they received was impeccable; not only from the staff but from the women and men who came in during the day and loved on our babies when we could not.

They rocked them, fed them, snuggled them, and gave them that close human connection that is so imperative for newborns to thrive.

They would also pop in when we were there and check up on us; not because they had to, but because they genuinely cared.

As the kids grew older and we traveled back and forth to that same hospital for procedures and appointments, our appreciation of the volunteers grew even stronger.

They were the ones who helped calm my kids and keep them occupied before they were wheeled back to the operating room.

After one exceptionally taxing day of back-to-back surgeries for two of my kids,  the volunteers were the ones who brought  an endless supply of toys to my son's room after surgery so he wouldn’t be bored.

They were the ones who spent hours playing “spa” with my daughter- braiding her hair, painting her toes, and reading aloud to her when she grew tired.

Knowing that our kids were in such good hands allowed my husband and I  to have some time away from the hospital wing to grab a bite to eat, a hot shower, a short nap; time away from the beeps, dings, and whirs of the equipment in the hospital rooms to destress and recharge.

Volunteers also saved the day at a long assessment appointment we had at a building on the hospital’s campus.

My husband and I were able to stay in the room while our youngest son was being examined and assessed, while a few teenage volunteers were keeping our other three kids engaged by playing on the small outdoor playground, having some Wii video game competitions, and reading lots of books.

What could have been a long, stressful appointment trying to manage four bored kids in a small exam room was made much easier by these amazing people.

Our latest encounter with volunteers involved our youngest son’s Make a Wish experience.

A team of two local women who were assigned to help execute his wish went above and beyond with visits, answering all of our questions, and including our other children in the whole process.

His wish to meet Dora the Explorer at Universal Studios in Hollywood went better than we could have hoped for and was followed up just last week with a handmade scrapbook of our trip – made by volunteers- so that we have something to always remember it by.

Many times, I wonder if the volunteers really know how much impact they make on people; especially families like ours with multiple children who have special needs.

I feel like I could say Thank You a million times or write Thank You notes until my hands cramp up and it will still never express the gratitude I feel for what they have done for us.

So, if there are any volunteers out there reading this- you are priceless.

No matter what your field of volunteering happens to be- you will make a difference in so many lives and touch so many people.

In many cases, the work is thankless, sad, and difficult, but please know that you are appreciated beyond words for all that you do.

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