When we first open our eyes as newborn babies, most of us have our parents there to embrace us with physical contact, establishing a trusting bond. But for many babies whose parents cannot be there for them, or who need extra care, volunteers like Stanbridge College Vocational Nursing Alumnus, Aleisa Bierman, are there with arms wide open.
For two years, Ms. Bierman has volunteered at St. Mary Medical Center as a volunteer cuddler in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), feeding and holding premature and sick infants.
“My main focus […] is always to provide contact with the babies in the NICU as it is crucial for them to have human contact while they are there and it is not always possible for the nurses to provide such time. It has been a great learning and rewarding experience,” stated Ms. Bierman, a recent graduate of the Diploma in Vocational Nursing program at Stanbridge College.
In addition to cuddling, Ms. Bierman assists the nurses by restocking supplies, preparing new beds for new patients, running specimens to labs and picking up new patient documents for the staff.
“The nurses, as caring as they are, usually have time to only hold the baby while it is eating from a bottle, but because of all the tasks they must accomplish they don’t always have the luxury of simply cuddling them. When I am there I get that luxury, the ability to simply hold and infant, for hours if need be.”
During her time at St. Mary’s, Ms. Bierman found inspiration for her future profession and is currently continuing to learn from the nurses and staff at the facility. Volunteering also helped her in her studies and gave her real-world experience as she saw first hand how the professional nurses handled stressful situations, nursing duties and organization of tasks.
“I get to observe how the nurses perform their duties and organize tasks. I am also fortunate enough to be there during change of shift so I get to be present for pass off report. It solidified my desire to be a nurse before I even began nursing school,” stated Ms. Bierman.
“A large lesson I have learned from watching the nurses is how to stay calm in a crisis,” she continued. “They have had moments where they needed to act swiftly and always did but in a calm manner. It has been a great place to be to help boost what I have learned during nursing school.”
According to Kim Whitsett, Volunteer Coordinator at St. Mary Medical Center, “Aleisa has generously volunteered 196.75 hours. […] By volunteering in NICU she provides invaluable help to our staff as well as to the babies. We appreciate that she makes time in her busy schedule to volunteer.”
The impact Ms. Bierman has made is seen not only in the staff at St. Mary Medical Center but in her own family life. As a mother, Ms. Bierman is excited to pass on her commitment to community service to her daughter.
“It makes me feel even better that as she gets older she is able to see me give back and hopefully in turn will give back when she is older. It is a great example to set and lesson to teach at a young age. You definitely can’t help but feel great after helping those who need it. I don’t plan on ending my volunteering once I have my license; it is too amazing of an experience to give up,” stated Ms. Bierman.
At the Stanbridge College 2012 Commencement Exercises, Ms. Bierman was recognized as the inaugural 2012 Thomas A. Fuentes Community Service award recipient for her dedication to community service. The event was the first time the 2012 Thomas A. Fuentes Community Service award was given to a Stanbridge College graduate.
According to Yasith Weerasuriya, President of Stanbridge College, “Ms. Bierman’s impact on the staff of St. Mary’s Medical Center and support from fellow classmates marked her as an exemplary candidate for the award. We congratulate Ms. Bierman on her positive influence in her community and her graduation from the Diploma in Vocational Nursing program. Her commitment to service will help her succeed in any endeavor she sets her mind to.”