Since 1989, when Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth opened its doors, they've had "baby buddies."
The buddies are volunteers who typically work 3 hour shifts cuddling and comforting infants in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit.
Baby Buddies are trained to care for babies in a fragile state. These tiny patients are sick, sometimes very sick with wires and devices attached to them. The volunteers are there because the parents can't be there. Either they have to work, are sick or live a long distance away and must care for their other children.
The nurses are busy caring for the babies and don't have time to sit and cuddle them. That's where Baby Buddies come in. These volunteers sing, talk, rock and engage with the babies, this engagement helps the babies thrive and adds to treatment to allow them to go home.
My Hometown Hero, Leslie Paduano has been a volunteer at Cook Children's for 20 years. For the past 5 years she's been a "baby buddy" and she calls it "priceless". I asked her if she's a gift to the babies and parents, she said "they're a gift to me."