VOLUNTEER SHARING BY
ERIN SIPPEL, VOLUNTEER, CHILD CARE HOME
(1) Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Erin and I am a volunteer in the Small Baby Room at Mother’s Choice. I started volunteering at Mother’s Choice in 1999 when I first moved to Hong Kong. I was working as a pediatric speech therapist and had a lot of experience working with children but not as much experience with typically developing children. I knew I was about to start a family soon so I wanted to have that experience to be around typically developing children. I did that for a few years and then left to raise my own family. About 10 years ago I came back to Mother’s Choice, also in Small Baby Room, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.
(2) Please share how you first get connected with Mother’s Choice.
I connected with Mother Choice because I was in a field that works with children, so I’ve just always been really passionate about working with children. And when I arrived in Hong Kong, I’ve learned about Mother’s Choice through the American Women’s Association, the AWA. They put me in touch with Mother’s Choice. And when I heard about their mission, it just seems like something that really resonated with me.
(3) What’s your most memorable moment/experience in your work with Mother’s Choice, and why?
I mean there’s so many, but I think the one thing after all these years that still just thrills me is when I walk into the Small Baby Room and I see a picture of a family in the child’s crib and that’s the sign that child has been matched with a forever family. And there’s just such a joyous feeling when you see that. Also that the adoptive parents, when they come into Small Baby Room to train, it’s just so rewarding to see that bond with their baby. And even to see it from the perspective of the baby. I mean I’ve spent a lot of time with their baby and just instantly, they connect with the parents. It’s so beautiful to see! And so, moving with the birth moms, when the birth moms come in and they’re also learning parenting skills and just to see the confidence grow in them is so amazing, and to see the bond developing between them and their baby. It’s just so rewarding!
The Cuddle Me program is a program that we recently launched and it’s a program that gives one-on-one care between a trained cuddler and a baby who maybe just needs a little bit extra attention or care. And it’s been a super rewarding program. I see that I can form a bond quite easily with these babies because I’m spending so much time, one-on-one with one child, so they see my face, they hear my voice and they immediately know me. But similarly I’m able to find out things about them that makes life a bit easier for them so whether is being held in a certain position or a certain pacifier that they like better than another one. And then I can share that with staff just to make their day-to-day life with this baby a little bit easier. And it’s been such a great program because I’ve seen these children from when they first come into it sometimes right from the hospital to where I can confidently say, I don’t think they need me anymore. I think they’re fine to be in the room and it’s just really rewarding to see that.
(4) What’s your hopes/dreams for the future of Mother’s Choice and/or the children we serve?
I think I agree with Mother’s Choice and their philosophy that I just want to see every child in a family and as soon as that can happen the better. I often think, you know, these children have so much to offer and I want someone to be able to experience that. Not just me, but someone else. So it’s just so wonderful when they find a forever family, whether that’s their birth family and adoptive family, it’s just… the circle is complete.
(5) Finally, anything in addition you’d like to share but we didn’t ask?
I would just say that if anyone else is interested in the Cuddle Me program, I also help to train volunteers, so we’re always looking for more volunteers. Right now, I’m in cuddling three nights a week, but I would love to have some others helping with that. The goal would be to have so many cuddlers that we don’t have enough babies to cuddle. So if anyone is interested in the Cuddle Me program they should reach out to Eunice and you can put them in touch.
I’ve seen these children from when they first come into it, sometimes right from the hospital, to where I can confidently say I don’t think they need me anymore.
GET TO KNOW MOTHER’S CHOICE INFO SESSION
Learn more about Mother’s Choice or how to become a volunteer on our team by joining the next Get To Know Mother’s Choice Info Session via Zoom. Sign up here please.