Central Carolina HEALTH - Winter 2011 - (Page 14)
CL WN N O I G around
By Gordon Anderson
Two CCH volunteers wrap up nearly 20 years of service in a special way
Lataine Oldham and Norma Hart have been making stuffed clown dolls
for pediatric surgery patients at CCH for 18 years, a span during which they’ve logged more than 21,000 volunteer hours (or about 7,000 clowns). But Oldham and Hart recently decided that they’d made enough clowns and that it was time to do something different, although they will continue making 100 Christmas stockings each year for babies born at the hospital in November and December. What Oldham and Hart didn’t want to do, however, was leave the hospital high and dry when they decided their days of clowning around were over. The program existed for about three years before the two women stepped in and took the reins, and they hope it will continue well after they’re gone. So although they’re leaving, they’re giving CCH a little bit of time to find another clown maker to carry on the tradition that is so firmly entrenched with CCH’s younger patients. “They gave us over 1,200 clowns before they stopped,” says Crystal Hickman, CCH’s director of volunteer services. “This gives us a
Lataine Oldham and Norma Hart have made 7,000 clowns and worked over 21,000 hours. That’s the equivalent of a full time job for five years for each of these two volunteers.
couple of years to find someone else who can make clowns.” In addition to the 1,258 clowns Oldham and Hart made between June 2 and Sept. 11 of last year, they had a few hundred more on hand. When they finished their three-month odyssey, they were surrounded by 1,545 clowns.
A Labor of Joy
Oldham and Hart began making clowns in October 1992, after a woman they knew said she couldn’t continue doing so. “We had a women’s club, and we needed something to do that month,” Oldham says. “Norma [Hart] was working in the emergency room at the time and asked if we’d do it. We really just started out because the lady who was doing it couldn’t keep it going.” But Oldham said she and Hart grew to cherish the reactions their work garnered. “We really enjoyed when we could see the faces of the little children who received a clown— it made our hearts so happy, so we decided we’d keep doing it,” she says. “But we’re getting a little older, and we just got tired. It was 25 clowns a
join our team
CCH is always looking for volunteers to make memories like Lataine and Norma’s. If you’re interested, contact Crystal Hickman, volunteer director, at (919) 774-2187.
month to start, but it got up to 50 and 60 a month. We couldn’t get anything else done.” Oldham says she and Hart began making the final 1,200 clowns the weekend of June 2 and 3, and cut out outfits for all of them over those two days. They spent the next three months putting those outfits onto doll bodies made from material used on the inside of plaster casts—donated by CCH—and then sewing everything on, including faces. “It felt like we worked every day and night those three months,” she recalls. “There were a lot of Saturdays, and sometimes we’d work until 10 p.m. I remember I woke up one morning at quarter past 4 and worked until 10 p.m.” As the CCH staffer who coordinates volunteer efforts, Hickman knows well what the clown program has meant to the hospital’s young patients over the years. But she understands from a personal perspective as well. “My son is 5 years old, and he still has his clown from when he had tubes put in his ears,” she says. “The clown meant a lot to him. It was a scary time for all of us, and having that clown and that bit of security was a big plus for all of us.”
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Central Carolina HEALTH - Winter 2011
Central Carolina Health - Winter 2011
In Bloom Again
The Ride of Your Life
Central Carolina HEALTH - Winter 2011