Children's Mercy resident 'Grandma' rocks!
Volunteer Lois Lakey, aka Grandma Lois, has held what is perhaps the most highly coveted volunteer position at any children’s hospital for 20 years. For 20 to 30 hours every week, Grandma Lois can be found sitting in a chair in the Children’s Mercy NICU with a critically ill newborn in her lap.
When families have a baby in the NICU, they sometimes aren’t able to be at the bedside night and day. That’s where Lois comes in, offering comfort, support and a lullaby or two.
Although Grandma Lois focuses mostly on caring for babies, she’s made a marked difference in the lives of people from across the hospital, including parents. She has gone above and beyond her role, also bringing clothes to the hospital for families.
Lois Lakey, aka "Grandma Lois," is a legendary volunteer at Children's Mercy, rocking babies and comforting families in the NICU for 20 years.
“I try to be the best I can be with these babies. But, it’s not only with the babies I try to share. The parents, they need love too,” she says.
Grandma Lois, who turns 83 on Oct. 31, has been selected for the inaugural class of The Shepherd Center's "70 over 70" Awards, and will be honored at a luncheon on Oct. 30.
For all these reasons and more, Grandma Lois was nominated and selected for a special award. She is a member of the inaugural class of The Shepherd Center’s 70 Over 70 Awards. The Shepherd Center is an organization that empowers volunteers to help enhance the lives of other older adults through learning opportunities and service to the community. The 70 Over 70 celebration recognizes 70 individuals from a variety of backgrounds who inspire others and improve our community.
'This is the spot'
As of Oct. 17, 2018, Grandma Lois has amassed a staggering 26,590 volunteer hours. Even after 20 years, she still remembers how she got the job. When she first became a volunteer, she was led around the hospital to see what spots were available. “We came to the NICU and a baby was crying and the nurse was busy. I said this is the spot,” Lois says.
“There is hardly anyone here who doesn’t know who Grandma is, from housekeeping to the medical staff. Her work is appreciated by so many in the NICU. Her smiles, positive attitude, love, compassion and humor make Children’s Mercy not just a better place for the critically ill babies she holds, but for everyone around her as well,” says Shelly Nicoll, Office Manager, Volunteer & Guest Services.
A countless number of babies have been held and comforted by Grandma Lois over the years, but she loves each one and she sometimes receives pictures and updates from former NICU patients. If she could share one piece of advice with every baby, Grandma Lois says she would tell them, “I love you. Be the best thing you can be in this world.”
Grandma Lois will be honored at a special luncheon for the 70 Over 70 on Oct. 30, perfect timing as her 83rd birthday is Oct. 31.
While we don't currently have volunteer openings in the NICU, there are plenty of other ways you can give back! Learn how you can Get Involved at Children's Mercy.