Every nursing career involves is a bit of a winding road. Jennifer Davis’ is no exception.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Illinois, she worked in the adult inpatient care unit at Evanston Northwestern Hospital, then in pediatric subspecialty care at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, and finally the pediatric floor at Carolinas Medical Center before becoming a wife and eventually a stay-at-home mom.
While her days as a full-time nurse were behind her, she still wanted to make use of her skills. So when her husband Benjamin Davis, MD, a physician in the Emergency Department at Carle, told her about a new volunteer opportunity, she was intrigued. National Volunteer Week is April 7-13.
“When our friend, Beth Unander, who is a nurse at Healthy Beginnings, gave a Healthy Beginnings presentation to the Carle Emergency Department, my husband couldn’t wait to tell me about it,” she recalls. “I loved the entire concept but I didn't feel ready to jump back into working full time.
"Volunteering one day a week is a perfect fit for me right now.”
As a volunteer with Healthy Beginnings, Jennifer accompanies the Healthy Beginnings nurse on home visits. While the nurse performs her assessment, Jennifer plays and reads with the children. This allows the mom and nurse to talk with less distraction, while children receive positive attention from an adult.
“I love it when we are working on a puzzle or building a tower and the child gets this look of accomplishment and we high five,” Jennifer explains. “Or when an infant pulls up from a sit to a stand, and I get to tell them, ‘Wow, you are so big!'
"Their eyes light up because they are so proud of themselves.”
In addition to the home visits, Jennifer also enjoys helping at monthly Healthy Beginnings social events, assisting at the Carle Mobile Health Clinic, organizing donations and aiding with general office duties.
“I love being a part of a team that is dedicated to helping such a diverse group of young families in our community,” Jennifer says. “It has been amazing watching the team of nurses, social workers and staff work together to help mothers and families access the care and resources that they need. The group is sincere in their purpose and they are fun!”
Last year, 1,721 Carle volunteers provided 108,855 hours of service to 94 hospital, clinical and regional areas within Carle. Jennifer is one of more than a dozen volunteers donating her time to Healthy Beginnings.