A group of students at Western Michigan University are devoting their time to make the days of children at local hospitals a bit more magical.
The WMU chapter of A Moment of Magic is one of 16 college organizations around the country that dress up as princesses and superheroes. WMU chapter president Audrey VanEssen said its members often visit Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo and the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. They also make personalized home visits.
“The first visit I ever did was with this little girl," VanEssen says. "She is obsessed with anything like princesses. We walked in, and she got this huge smile on her face, and out of the corner of my eye, I can see her mom start to cry. Afterwards, when we were debriefing, and we were able to talk to her, she said that was the first time she saw her child smile in two weeks, because she had just started chemo.”
Van Essen says the time commitment for students varies depending on how involved they want to be. Many students start off as a ‘magic-maker,’ which entails attending one meeting a week to spread the word about the organization. To become a character volunteer, students must shadow a more seasoned volunteer for a semester.
“I think that, at the end of the day, just remembering that no matter how much work you put into it, or you might have to give up a Friday night doing something else, that really you’re there for the kids. And when you walk into a room and you see them smile and tell you that you’re their favorite, that’s really the most heartwarming experience,” VanEssen says.
To learn more about A Moment of Magic, visit its Facebook page. Students can attend weekly meetings on Thursday nights, and people in the Kalamazoo-area community can support the group by becoming what it calls a ‘magic-maker.’