Experiencing the joy of the holiday season all year long

A personal story by staff member Emily Robertson

The joy of the holiday season comes to the United States each year on the wings of generosity – people are delighted by festive decorations, delicious and familiar aromas, and, most importantly, by a spirit that compels them to share with others.  

International Hospital for Children (IHC) is fortunate to have friends who carry this generous spirit all year long – not just during the holiday time –to provide IHC’s patients with the precious gifts of hope and health during all seasons.  This is especially clear for me when I hear directly from families who benefit from IHC’s programs.  As the holiday season arrives again to Richmond, 12-year-old Kristopher and his mother, Glenda, from the country of Honduras, bestow some precious thoughts to convey how much gifts to IHC impact young lives and carry on the spirit of giving.

***

Kristopher came to Richmond through IHC’s program in early November because he was in need of a catheterization procedure to repair a potentially dangerous heart arrhythmia.  Kristopher’s mother, Glenda, explained that Kristopher felt anxious about his heart procedure and was homesick during his first week in Richmond.  Fortunately, Kristopher did not have to wait long for his treatment with VCU electrophysiologist Dr. Richard Shepard.  On the day of Kristopher’s procedure, an equally nervous Glenda accompanied her son through a successful process.

Kristopher required only one night’s stay in the hospital after treatment and recovered quickly.  When I asked Glenda and Kristopher if they felt relieved now, Glenda smiled and said, “Do you know what Kristopher thinks?”  She then repeated the plan that Kristopher had outlined for her –to return to Honduras with a new determination to work hard at school so he can become a physician.  Then, he will use his medical skills to volunteer for an organization like IHC so that he can help others, just like Dr. Shepard did for him. 

“Kristopher has learned a lot from IHC’s volunteers about giving,” said Glenda.  “My son is truly grateful, as am I.” 

For the present time, Kristopher plans to start giving back by encouraging and assuring another IHC patient currently in Richmond who will go through similar treatment soon. 

As a member of the IHC program staff, I have the privilege of working with brave children like Kristopher every day.  It’s moments like these – the moments when, out of the mouth of a child, you hear a simple yet completely perfect explanation of why IHC’s work matters – that direct me back to the spirit of generosity that envelops IHC as an organization.   Gifts of time and donations  not only repair a heart like Kristopher’s, but also instill in that newly healthy heart a desire to give in return. 

That’s a spirit that endures far beyond the holiday season.

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