National Volunteer Week runs from April 6-12. One place that benefits greatly from the dedication and selflessness of volunteers is Memorial University Medical Center.
With the stroke of a key and a smile on his face, Brian Brown pours his heart and soul into his music. The best part of it all? He has never had a single lesson.
"I just sat down at a piano one day, laid my hands on it and started asking myself how does this sound?" he recalled.
One day while at work, he noticed the piano in the lobby at Memorial Health.
"I saw that the piano was available and I asked, 'Can I play?' he said.
Each afternoon, you can find Brown playing his music in the lobby. He doesn't get paid, but he said the reward of bringing a little joy into the lives of people facing challenges is invaluable.
"My purpose is to do it to make people happy, make them feel close and just safe," he said. "One guy he told me his wife was in surgery and he told me that he was so stressed out with anxiety and he just witnessed a miracle through my music and then he felt closer to God and I didn't have words to that."
A few buildings over, Sheila Phillips and several other volunteers bring joy to patients in a different type of way with the help of their four-legged friends. Phillips' pup Wolfgang is a therapy dog.
"They're nothing but love, and there's something about petting a dog that releases a happy hormone in your body and the people are just so happy to see him," Phillips said.
The dogs visit patients several times a week.
She said that patients are at the hospital and probably left their dogs at home and miss them terribly. "So that's one of the good things about seeing the dogs," she said.
Both the dog visits and the piano music provide a much needed sense of relief.
Memorial Health is home to nearly 300 volunteers.
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