Volunteers Deck The Inn’s Halls, Make Spirits Bright

NETE Window Painting
NETE Window Painting 2018

Volunteers help make The Inn a special place for children year-round. This is especially true over the holidays when caring volunteers create a festive atmosphere at The Inn to bring joy, peace and gifts to seriously ill children and their families.

Volunteers from Leidos, Kaiser Permanente and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) recently donated hours of their time to help get The Inn ready for the holidays. Volunteers draped a 200-ft. greenery garland around The Inn’s lobby staircase railing, set up a 12-ft. Christmas trees in the upstairs hallway and a slightly smaller one in the dining room – and decorated them with hundreds of ornaments. They also made sure other areas of The Inn were decorated for the season.

Zilly the therapy dog in front of a gingerbread house
Zilly the therapy dog in front of a gingerbread house

Also thanks to the volunteers, snowflake and peppermint candy ornaments adorn the ceilings in The Inn’s staff offices and volunteer lounge areas. CBRE and Michael Lichtenstein with Shulman Rogers helped make sure the community apartments were also festively decorated. With the help of Inn children, NETE staff spent an afternoon painting holiday-themed scenes on the windows of staff offices, the teen & young adult lounge and gym.

With only half of The Inn in operation, Inn staff built two temporary rooms in the upstairs hallway to accommodate The Inn’s Gingerbread Gift Shop. Artist Patrick Owens brought the bare walls to life by adorning them with a whimsical, candy-decorated gingerbread house that made parents and kids smile.

Booz Allen Hamilton volunteers staffed the gift shop, helping children “shop” from hundreds of donated toys and gifts during two and a half weeks in December. After helping children choose the perfect gifts, Booz Allen volunteers also aided the children in wrapping them.

Expert quilters from Pennsylvania’s Quilts for Kids and St. John’s United Church in Edinburg, Virginia, sewed more than 100 large, holiday-print gift sacks. The handmade bags were used to present holiday gifts to each family staying at The Inn and The Inn’s community apartments over the holidays.

“Volunteers help make the holiday season especially festive for families of seriously ill children who cannot go home for the holidays,” says Laura King, senior director of community engagement, The Children’s Inn. “Their caring support gives a special touch to the holidays at The Inn, allowing children to treasure their time here even when they would rather be home.”

Staff and volunteers gift wrapping
Staff and volunteers gift wrapping

Gift wrapping support also came from the Vilardo Foundation, Women for The Inn (WINN) member Debra Cohen, Inn board member and Synergy Enterprises President/CEO and Founder Prachee Devadas and staff, CBRE employees Susan Thomas and others.

The Inn also is grateful for volunteers from Bikur Cholim of Greater Washington for serving up a delicious Chanukah breakfast to Inn families. On a different day, caring DARCARS staff (pictured below) presented Inn residents with a full hotel-style breakfast buffet with all the fixings.

DARCARS serving breakfast
DARCARS Volunterrs serving breakfast, 2018

Year after year, Dr. Lori Wiener, co-director of the Behavioral Health Core and head of the Psychosocial Support and Research Program at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research and her two adult children spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at The Inn to make sure every child and family who cannot go home for the holidays receives gifts, has their photo taken with Santa and enjoys delicious holiday meals. The Wiener family also brings gifts to children and young adults who are inpatient at the NIH Clinical Center’s hospital on Christmas Day.

Lori on Christmas
Lori on Christmas
Lori (second from left, rear) is shown with an Inn family, along with Santa himself!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals were provided by Congregation Beth El Bethesda, Design Cuisine and the Cravath Family.

Christmas volunteers from a local Congregation prepared and serve food
Christmas volunteers from a local Congregation prepared and serve food for Christmas.

The Inn is grateful to the many donors and additional volunteers who helped make the holiday season extra bright for the children we serve.