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Following grandma’s footsteps, teen volunteers at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital
Contact: Lisa Parro, senior public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health 630-312-7508

La Grange – From the time Ellie Mrazek was a little girl, her grandmother would stop by her house after volunteering at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, still wearing her uniform and name tag.  “Someday,” she remembers thinking, “I want to be a volunteer too.”

Today, both Ellie, 17, and her grandmother, Janet Mrazek, now 78, volunteer at the hospital.  Ellie volunteers weekly in the birth center, answering phones, cleaning cribs and assisting visitors.  Janet, now in her 28th year as a volunteer, serves as a day chairman, or the main contact in the volunteer room.

Janet had no idea her visits with Ellie would have such an impact on a young girl.  Janet began volunteering after her sister became very ill and was treated at the hospital.  “I told her that if she got well, I would come and do my share,” said Janet, a Plainfield resident.  “I love this hospital. Everybody is so nice and when you volunteer, you always get more out of the experience than what you give. There is a happiness and self-satisfaction knowing I’m contributing in some way.”

Ellie, of La Grange, agrees.  She loves folding the impossibly-small shirts for the babies, and also helps collect menus from the patient rooms. Sometimes, she helps patients complete their meal selections.  She hopes she can interact even more with patients in the future by working in different departments.

“I like to work with people; I would never want to sit behind a desk,” Ellie said. “I’m friendly and I like to make friends with people and hear their stories.”

Ellie, a junior at Lyons Township High School North Campus in La Grange, always aspired to become a doctor.  When she was in the seventh grade, her father, George, was diagnosed with bile duct cancer and subsequently received a liver transplant after radiation permanently damaged it.  Ellie now wants to become a pediatric oncologist, a fact that makes George proud.

“Ellie was very strong throughout the process and she’s really grown,” George said. “I believe that good can come out of tragedy and, so far, there’s been a happy ending in ours.”

Ellie has always loved working with children.  She started babysitting in the fifth grade and is in her third year running an eight-week summer day camp for 30 children with her two friends.  Last year, she started teaching kindergarten Sunday school at St. Cletus Parish in La Grange, where her mother, Leslie, also works with full day kindergarten students.

“I knew that working in a hospital setting would provide me with great experience and exposure to what I hopefully want to do with the rest of my life,” Ellie said. “Now I just need to make it a reality.”