The Thursday Night Club

The Thursday Night Club by Steven Manchester

Book: The Thursday Night Club by Steven Manchester Read Free Book Online
Authors: Steven Manchester
group of people who make a huge difference in the kids’ lives and there are lots of opportunities to make that difference. You could greet visitors and patients, be a liaison for patients and families, or even assist in the emergency room. Some volunteers like to deliver flowers and mail.”
    “I was hoping to do something more directly with the kids.”
    “We have many volunteers who visit with patients or hold the hand of a chronically ill child. Some read to the kids and others assist those with disabilities.”
    “I’ll take it,” I said.
    Carissa looked at me. “Which one?” she asked.
    “All of the above.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    It was a child-friendly atmosphere, including a life-sized playhouse. We were at the end of a corridor when I spotted a plaque on the wall. It read “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
    “I like that.”
    “Me, too,” she said, “but my favorite quote is, ‘We cannot always return an act of kindness to the person who bestowed it, but we can pay back the debt by helping others.'”
    “Nice.”
    As we marched up one corridor and down the next, Carissa filled me in on my rights as a volunteer. “Just so you know, you have certain rights when you’re giving your time here.” She began counting on her fingers. “The hospital promises you a clear volunteer assignment, fulfilling work, training, informed involvement, supervision, respect, your time put to best use, safe and healthy working conditions and recognition of your service.”
    “Wow, good for you. That’s a lot to remember,” I teased.
    She giggled.
    “Recognition?” I asked. “Are people really concerned with that when they volunteer?”
    She shrugged. “Nobody that I’ve met yet.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Upon completing my week of training and orientation, I started spending time with the kids. At first, I read to two of the older ones – sixteen and seventeen, respectively – who were near their end. Both were sedated and submerged in hospital-induced comas. After each page I finished, I looked up for a reaction. There was none. Through my own ungodly suffering, I kept right on reading, hoping that on some level my presence brought them some comfort.
    I went whenever I could physically make it, which wasn’t nearly as often as I would have liked. For the first time since being diagnosed with this evil and greedy disease, my will was no longer as strong as the bad cells that multiplied inside me.
    It’s difficult to explain the symptoms. I’d suffered from the flu a few times in my life; times when body aches, cold sweats, fever and chills made me want to lay down right where I was and curl up into the fetal position. With cancer, this would have been a good day. Cell by dying cell, my body was shutting down.
    Two weeks had passed before I was introduced to some of the younger children by the nursing staff I’d grown to care for. These honest, little people asked me some of the strangest questions. “Why is your nose so big?” one small lad inquired.
    “It was a gift from my father.”
    “Do you like candy canes better than candy corn?”
    “I’ve never met a candy I couldn’t get along with.”
    “Why are you really here?”
    Even though I knew the answer, this was a tough one. “To make you smile,” I said, but the truth was a bit more selfish than that. Deep down, I knew I was there to face my paralyzing fear of death and to make peace with it. It seemed reasonable enough. These children had just come from heaven and were already returning home.
Who could be closer to God than that?
    Each time I stepped into the hospital, I nourished my soul, all the while wondering why I hadn’t been walking through that same door for years. And each day was different.
    I met a

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