Archived Story

Volunteer appreciation

Published 8:44pm Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday was a day of appreciation for volunteers at the Lodge of Children’s Harbor.

The afternoon revolved around the many people that help make the facility operate smoothly through their assistance with mass mailings, in the thrift store or of watching the office when none of the official administrators are on campus. The special helpers come from counties around the area and not just nearby towns.

“We do it once a year to show them how much we appreciate them for what they do all year long,” said Children’s Harbor Facility and Volunteer Coordinator Wanda Coker. “You might say they do everything from special events to folding laundry. We could not do half of what we do without them.”

Events for the Volunteer Appreciation Reception included an Eagle Scout project presentation by a local Boy Scout and a keynote group address by three members of the Fletcher clan. The family is comprised of Christy and Bart (the parents) and Mary Kathryn and Austin (the kids). Except for Austin, the Fletchers’ address to the crowd concerned the story of Mary Kathryn’s battle with a brain tumor a few years ago and the role that Children’s Harbor played for the whole crew during the young lady’s surgery and rehabilitation – especially the other facility that is located at a medical center in Birmingham.

“We are a family of Children’s Hospital,” said Bart. “During her 50-day stay … we were blessed by (the assistance of Children’s Harbor’s) Family Center.

“What they do here impacts children and folks all over Alabama. We just want to thank them.”

The Fletchers relayed the story of the support they received and, according to Christy, “how Children’s Harbor played a vital role in getting (Mary Kathryn) better.”

The Family Center, which is an entity of Children’s Harbor, offers support services to families and children who are being treated at Children’s Hospital. It offers a place for them to get away and attempt to maintain normal lives through a loved one’s medical process. The assistance they provide at no cost includes amenities like nap rooms, a place to bathe and laundry facilities. The Family Center also offers recreational activities like video games and basketball.

When the guest of honor, Mary Kathryn, had the floor, she read from a favorite book of hers entitled, “Princess Bubble,” that stressed the importance and benefits of being happy for the sake of happiness.

Mary Kathryn’s story has been chronicled in a book that her parents wrote. “Holding Her Mat” is based on the scripture verses contained in Mark 2:1-5 and 11. The book paints an analogy between Children’s Harbor, which the young lady calls a “no needle zone,” and the story in the Bible that speaks of a paralyzed man who spent his entire life on a mat before some of Jesus’ followers brought him before the Lord to be healed.

To conclude the reception of volunteer thanks, Boy Scout Josh Graham presented his Eagle Scout project that was sponsored by the Lake Martin Resource Association. Graham built a set of permanent storage lockers for life preservers that will sit on the a Children’s Harbor dock and end the need to shuttle them back and forth by golf carts from the Lodge’s basement which is a little distance from the shore. The natural looking wooden-slat compartments were also built by Graham to serve a dual duty as lakeside benches.