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There's no time clock to punch on this duty

David Beidler spends his weekdays repairing massive sterilizers and acidneutralization systems at DHMC, where he works as a plumber. Come Saturday evening, one might expect to find him relaxing at the movie theater or the bowling alley. Instead, he heads right back to DHMC, where he's also a regular volunteer.

Dave Beidler, a plumber in the DHMC maintenance department, is also a regular volunteer at DHMC.
Photo: Jon Gilbert Fox

"I feel like it's important to be of service," says Beidler, explaining why he spends his off-hours, on his own time, at his workplace. He's been volunteering every week for the past two years as a "cuddler" in the Intensive Care Nursery (ICN). The staff there say that they appreciate his commitment and his gentle, patient manner with the tiny infants in the unit.

Studies have shown that when babies born prematurely—after less than 37 weeks in the womb—are cuddled, it helps them to gain weight and grow faster. They also spend less of their energy crying and more of it on growth. Beidler, who has three children and grew up in a big family with many nieces and nephews, has always "enjoyed holding infants," he notes.

"I hope it helps them in some way," he says of his tiny charges in the ICN. "I also want to be of service to the parents and the nurses," he adds, explaining that the nurses get to "relax a little bit in the short time that I'm there." Beidler says that he hopes someday to also volunteer at House of Hope, a children's hospital in Haiti, through a program at his church.

Beidler is but one of 450 active volunteers at DHMC. The ranks of volunteers include other Medical Center employees, as well as numerous community members. Though there are currently no openings in the ICN for additional cuddlers, there are 75 other departments at DHMC that incorporate volunteers into their daily activities. M.C.W.

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