Jaclyn Rosen was a West Philadelphia school teacher prior to joining CHOP. As an educator, she strongly believed that building positive relationships with her students and their families would help her better understand and support the needs of her students. Through this experience, Jaclyn learned how vast the needs were and was inspired to volunteer at a children's hospital. It was during her time as a volunteer that she was exposed to the Child Life Specialist role. She quickly realized that her expertise and experience as a school teacher was relevant and overlapped in many ways with the work of a Child Life Specialist – teaching children about what is happening and using assessment skills to assess and support their needs. Jackie decided to make a career change, and after becoming a certified child life specialist, joined CHOP in the summer of 2014 as an Emergency Room Child Life Specialist. She connects with patients and their families when they arrive at the ER to determine best practices to help cope with and normalize the environment through play, developmentally appropriate language, and therapeutic methods.
As a CHOP employee, Jackie has participated in many volunteer opportunities offered by the Office of Community Relations' Employee Engagement & Volunteering program. This past summer, Jackie volunteered with CHOP's Refugee Health Program. She assisted in packing culturally appropriate food items for South Philadelphia refugee families affected by COVID-19. "It was great to learn about this resource. There was so much produce to box up for families. It felt great knowing that struggling families were not only getting food, but that the food they were receiving was nutritious and high quality," she said. She also volunteered in the Karabots Garden, which serves as a resource for patients and community engagement programs that aim to support education and hands-on activities around gardening and healthy nutrition. Jackie helped with garden maintenance, making the space welcoming for patients and their families.
Since the fall of 2020, CHOP has partnered with Community-Accessible Testing & Education (CATE), a mobile testing initiative that provides affordable and accessible COVID-19 education and testing to low income, vulnerable communities across Pennsylvania. Through this collaboration, CHOP employee volunteers have participated in 13 community COVID-19 testing sites strategically placed in vulnerable communities throughout Philadelphia. This past January, Jackie took on a logistical staff role at a North Philadelphia testing site. "I helped direct people where to go, made sure they completed the paperwork properly, and assisted with phone registrations to make sure they could access their results. It was a cold day, but we had a great system in place and people did not have to wait long. I do feel like I made an impact. I was able to reassure them of the process and that the service was free. Many of them have experienced barriers such as not having a testing place nearby or concerns about the financial aspects," she said.
On MLK Day of Service 2021, Jackie volunteered at Lutheran Settlement House (LSH)/ Jane Addams Place, a non-profit comprehensive emergency shelter for families. Their mission is to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through an integrated program of social, educational and advocacy services. Her volunteer task that day was to help make the place inviting for families by cleaning, sorting and organizing. "I had never been there before. It was a great opportunity to learn more about resources in the community. The staff was so passionate about their work and knew everyone that walked in," she said. Jackie helped organize a book display that children could access and take books free of charge. She had the opportunity to see firsthand the impact it had on children. "I got to see children come up to the book display and be so excited about selecting the books they would be taking home. With a background in teaching, books and literacy are fun for me. It was great to hone in what is important to me within that experience," she said.
Jackie uses volunteering as a way to learn about passions she didn't know existed, spend time with friends, meet others, and as a therapeutic experience. "Sometimes we lose the sense of exploration as we get older. Volunteering is a great way to challenge yourself. I've had friends and colleagues in the past that have asked me to volunteer with them, like at the Karabots Garden. It was great to spend time with a friend while doing something good for the community. Sometimes working in the ER can be really heavy and sad. We have no control over some situations. Volunteering is a way to have some control over making life better for others despite often challenging circumstances faced by members of the community," she said.
Jackie encourages other CHOP employees to go out and volunteer. "If a volunteer opportunity is not interesting or intimidating, explore other opportunities. Get out there and do something, no matter what that looks like. There are so many needs, you can start somewhere. Volunteering always puts me in a good mood. It builds up my feelings of self-worth and helps me become more in tuned with the community," she said.