Thank you, Doernbecher volunteers!

This National Volunteer Week, we’re celebrating and thanking the 471 incredible volunteers (and counting) who serve OHSU in a variety of ways. Every year, these volunteers spend 68,000 hours of their time playing music, doing administrative work, cuddling babies, sitting with pediatric oncology patients as they undergo treatment and giving visitors directions (just to name a few).

Although their roles and reasons for volunteering may differ, their impact is the same: They make OHSU a better place. Below, we get to know a few folks who donate their time to help Doernbecher kids, families and staff. Prepare to be inspired!

Lyrrel Lombard, baby cuddler

Every week, Lyrrel Lombard heads for the Doernbecher Neonatal Care Center (DNCC), where she spends hours assisting NICU staff as a “baby cuddler.” (Have you ever heard a better volunteer title?) Lyrrel holds babies and sings them to sleep, often recalling songs she learned in her years as a Girl Scout. Other responsibilities include amusing the babies who are awake and replacing pacifiers. It’s no wonder Lyrrel is a natural with the tiniest Doernbecher patients: she was a school counselor before she retired and today she has six grandchildren and one great-grandchild of her own. Lyrrel finds that her volunteer work helps put her own problems in perspective.

Although she loves the time she spends with patients, Lyrrel says her favorite part is watching families finally head home with their infants. “Leaving,” she said, “is joyous.”


Huck Finn and Carol Markt, animal-assisted therapy team 

Huck Finn and his owner, Carol, make the rounds bringing smiles to passing patients, visitors and employees every Thursday. Though Huck typically lounges atop a cart Carol steers around the hospital, he can sometimes be spotted lying on patients’ beds to be petted.

Huck is known for his hefty size and is likely part Maine Coone, though his breed is unknown. His age, too, is unknown, though Carol estimates he’s “nine-ish” years old. Huck was found abandoned in an apartment building by his previous owners – if only they knew how much joy he would one day bring to the lives of Doernbecher kids!

Carol, who has volunteered here for 22 years (four of those with Huck), believes animals help “transport” patients for just a few moments. “It takes people out of being here in a hospital,” she said.

Click here to learn more about Huck and Carol!


Jennifer Thornton, Chemo Pal

Jennifer is one of many OHSU employees who volunteer as Chemo Pal mentors. This Children’s Cancer Association program matches adults with kids undergoing cancer treatment. What does Jennifer love most about being a Chemo Pal? A patient’s smile when she walks into the room.

“Kids don’t want to be sick or constantly poked at the doctor’s office, but they can count on us to bring their favorite toys and games to make their day a little better,” Jennifer said. Click here to learn more about the Chemo Pal mentor program, and here to learn more about Jennifer and fellow Chemo Pal mentors Jen and Allie!


Meet more OHSU volunteers here. Interested in volunteering your time? Learn how you can get involved here.

Know a volunteer you’d like to thank? We invite you to leave a comment below or email