High School Students Bring Hope and Joy to McLean Patients

September 16, 2020

For the past few weeks, high school students from Blackstone Valley Tech have been bringing motivational messages, cards, and handmade angels to patients at McLean Hospital. Meghan Griggs, the niece of Karen Gaudette, center director for the McLean Child Care Center, led the effort to make sure “patients knew that people were still thinking of them and supporting them.”

“It gives me goose bumps to feel like this isolated teenager did something to give hope throughout the coming fall and winter of COVID-19 to patients struggling with mental wellness,” said McLean Hospital’s chaplain, Rev. Angelika A. Zollfrank, MDiv, BCC, ACPE certified educator.

Supporting Patients

Zollfrank explained that the idea for the project started months ago when she visited a patient receiving treatment through McLean’s Geriatric Psychiatry Inpatient Services. “She said that she had a collection of angels at home and that angels meant the world in her spiritual life, as she felt they were protective guardians and messengers/connectors to God,” Zollfrank said. “She was sad that she did not have an angel in the hospital, where she initially did not feel quite safe.”

Two women stand by tree with paintings
Zollfrank and Meghan with student-created artworks made for McLean patients

After the conversation, Zollfrank was determined to bring the woman an angel. “I figured I could craft a little tiny angel from a cotton ball—if I had one!” she said. Her search led her to Gaudette, who gave her the needed supplies. Zollfrank created the angel using a cotton ball and a string from an interoffice envelope as a belt.

“I brought it to the patient, who saw it and teared up immediately,” Zollfrank recalled. “With great care, she reached both hands out to the little cotton ball angel and said, ‘Awwww, my little angel. I need you here.’ When she left, she had it on top of her many bags and told me it was guiding her through the transition home.”

Spreading Hope

This summer, Gaudette reached out to Zollfrank after her niece, Meghan, had asked if there were volunteer opportunities for her and her friends at the hospital. Zollfrank knew how they could help. She suggested they create hopeful messages, faith affirmations, cards, flowers, and, of course, angels for McLean patients.

“I am a part of the National Honor Society and National Technical Honor Society at Blackstone Valley Tech,” Meghan explained. “These are community service organizations focused on outreach to our communities. I decided to join these organizations because I believe that we can make such a big difference in the lives of others by doing small acts of kindness.”

Meghan said that the pandemic has prevented her and her classmates from doing in-person community service, so they were looking for new ways to reach out. “We had to find another way to contribute from home, and I thought that sending things in for hospital patients could be a good way to lift the spirits of others, especially since visitors were no longer allowed in most hospitals,” she said.

Meghan and her friends created more than 400 laminated cards with Bible verses and motivational sayings. They also created many angels to give to patients.

“We wanted the angels to symbolize peace and hope for the patients,” Meghan reported. “One of the students made different paintings with quotes of encouragement on them too.”

Meghan thanked Zollfrank for “providing us with this opportunity to bring joy to others,” and Zollfrank expressed her gratitude to Meghan and her friends for their kind and selfless efforts. “What a gift!” she said.

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