Granddaughter's Condition Inspires Grandmother to Volunteer at Children's Hospital Colorado
Donna Mattson (above)
was named Volunteer of
the Year in 2009.
If you ever come through the hospital’s main entrance, you’ll likely see Donna Mattson wearing her blue volunteer vest and a welcoming smile. Donna has been volunteering for Children’s Hospital Colorado since 2005 – offering assistance to nervous families and visitors unfamiliar with the hospital. She does this job well not only because she has the disposition for the role, but because she was inspired to do so by her own granddaughter.
Donna and her late husband, Richard Mattson, raised their granddaughter, Kaela Mattson, since she was an infant. She lived a happy childhood until at age 14, Kaela began to have debilitating migraines. The family was referred to Children’s Colorado by Kaela’s pediatrician, where doctors found a non-malignant brain tumor the size of a large lemon.
After a six-and-a-half hour operation and several days at Children’s Colorado, Kaela fully recovered. Almost as soon as she was discharged, she wanted to give back to the hospital that helped her through her ordeal.
Granddaughter receives recognition and an academic scholarship for volunteering at our hospital
“Meeting the volunteers changed my view completely. Just putting a small smile on someone’s face – that is what it’s all about,” Kaela said. “I saw the impact they had on me and so I applied to be a volunteer as soon as I got out of the hospital.”
“When she was in the hospital, the volunteers were so present during her 10-day-stay. She was so impressed by their presence,” Donna added. “They talked to us, smiled and waved, they just couldn’t do enough.”
Kaela began as a junior volunteer in 2004 and received the honor of Junior Volunteer of the Year in 2006. As she grew older, she served as a senior volunteer, and received a scholarship towards her college education. After she graduated, she returned as an adult volunteer. Learn more about our Junior Volunteer Program.
Thinking about ways to give back
When Donna’s grandson, DJ Wooster, also signed up to be a volunteer, Donna began to think about how she could give back to the hospital.
“I thought it was about time I got on board. Seven years ago, I joined the volunteer family at Children’s Colorado.”
Since then, Donna has been helping out families who stand where she once stood with Kaela and was honored as Volunteer of the Year in 2009.
“Kathleen McBride has afforded me so many wonderful opportunities to be able to help people and to do special events. I have gained a world of knowledge and experience and a lot of humility helping families,” Donna said. “It’s been more of a gift for me than what I have been able to give back. I am a living testimony of what Children’s Colorado represents and how wonderful they are to families and the miracles they perform here.”
Family volunteer tradition continues to grow
Volunteers Angela Wooster
(left) and Donna (center)
and Kaela Mattson (right).
When Donna shares her story with families, she often introduces them to Kaela, who now works full time at Children’s Colorado as an admissions representative.
“I wanted to work here no matter what,” Kaela said. “It’s an honor and a huge responsibility to work in admissions. I love sharing my story with families; I let them know there is a brighter side. It’s important to go the extra mile to help them be a little calmer.”
Kaela has now inspired another relative to join the volunteer family. Her cousin and Donna’s granddaughter, Angela Wooster, is currently serving as a junior volunteer.
“People don’t realize the love that goes out of this hospital and the unsung heroes that are there to help everyone through a terrible time,” Donna said.
Learn how to become a volunteer at Children's Colorado.