By Timothy Eliades
Last year, I began visiting St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital through the service program of Holy Cross H.S., Flushing.
It has honestly changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. St. Mary’s has truly molded me into the man I am today.
St. Mary’s is New York’s largest and most experienced provider of long-term care to children with medically complex conditions. There, children with special needs experience improvements in health and quality of life. Some may say that an average day for a volunteer at St. Mary’s consists of arts and crafts and socializing with the children, but in my opinion, there is no “average day” at St. Mary’s. Every single week I go there, I learn something new that will stay with me for the rest of my life. My very first day at St. Mary’s taught me the most valuable lesson though.
Originally, I felt the need to go to St. Mary’s due to events with my little sister. When I heard about the service program, I knew I had to get involved. When that first day came and it was time for my first trip, I did not know what to expect. Mr. (Dimitri) Tsimoyiannis, head of the Service Learning Department, prompted me and explained that it will take time to get used to. I remember it like it was yesterday, walking into a very unfamiliar place yet smelling that familiar hospital scent. I thought it would be very tough to see the children, but after meeting them, I completely changed my perspective on people with disabilities. That was the day that I saw how miniscule my problems were in comparison with those of the children. I also realized how substantial the needs were of my sister.
Anyone who first meets my sister, Sofia, would see her as a regular, carefree, curly-haired, 11-year-old who loves the movie “Frozen.” Upon further inspection, one may realize that she is a special-needs child. Sofia has had seizures since she was 4 years old, and through St. Mary’s, I have indirectly learned more about her and what she went through in the early stages of her issues. Now every week when that distinct hospital smell fills my nose, I forget about all of my problems.
Eliades is a senior at Holy Cross H.S.