I recently went into the hospital. But it wasn’t to get tested or treated. It was to help provide some humor to the patients and staff at Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory, North Carolina.
A volunteer team called Charlie’s Chaplains visits their local hospital twice a month. I was excited to be a part of their clown ministry for a day.
Before I went, several friends and readers of my blog said that many children and some adults are scared of clowns. Although they said they were supportive, it was clear they were also skeptical. Fortunately, I was able to see and experience it first hand and I had a BLAST (and so did the kids and adults)!
The visit was very organized. The clowns, magician, and puppeteer/juggler were split into teams and assigned areas of the hospital. Each team had a cart full of props to use for the visits. They met with the staff on duty and visited the patient rooms they were allowed to enter.
It was a few hours of jokes, riddles, and performances. Almost all of the patients allowed us to visit with them.
What was exciting was to see the smiles appear on everyone’s face when they saw us. The smiles were contagious. After telling a joke or funny story, some patients had to tell us one before we could leave. Now that is audience participation!
Children visiting a parent or grandparent in the hospital would stick their head out the door and watch us as we made our way down each hallway. Charlie’s Chaplains are trained in how to design a “kid-friendly” face and how to approach children for the first time. I saw nothing but smiles and excitement from the kids during the visit.
The staff were not left out. A couple of very good practical jokes were played on them as well.
At the conclusion of the hospital rounds, the Charlie’s Chaplains volunteers spent a few minutes celebrating in the cafeteria.
My thanks goes out to Chaplain Ford, Becky Cortino and the rest of the FRMC Charlie’s Chaplains team for providing me such a wonderful experience and for making me feel welcome from the start. You truly are making a difference in people’s lives.