Tag Archives: Children’s Hospital and Medical Center

Lending Book and a Helping Hand

June 28, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

On a recent Monday evening, Omahan Kalli Pettit wheeled a squeaky book cart down a hospital hallway. A pair of teenagers jostled each other as they walked past.

Kalli, not much older at age 18, continued pushing the cart toward a family waiting area where she spotted a father busy on his cellphone and a preschooler bouncing from seat to seat.

“Book on a cart,” the young boy shouted with excitement.

“Would you like to pick out a book?” Kalli asked. 

The father placed the caller on hold to help his son.

“Look, Dad! Dinosaurs!”

Even though the interaction was brief, Kalli says seeing the young boy’s smile stretch from ear to ear was worth every bit of time she spends volunteering at Omaha Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.

The Marian High School senior started volunteering with the hospital in summer 2017. Teen volunteer services at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center typically increases in the summer months as young students are on break from school. Kalli started volunteering a few hours each week in June at the hospital’s Kids Camp, which is an area designated for siblings of family members attending routine clinic appointments to long-term care.

Friends and family say she’s always gravitated to helping kids. Perhaps it’s because not so long ago Kalli was in their shoes.

Kalli had a recent episode that forced her to spend a few nights at that very hospital’s sixth floor—the next area in which she planned to wheel the book cart. 

It wasn’t her first trip to the hospital. In 2009, Kalli—daughter of Mark and Kristie Pettit—was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 9.

“I remember being so young when nurses and doctors explained what was happening to my body,” Kalli says. “I was worried all of the time, but remember how calm the nurses and doctors were. They really inspired me to give back. It’s why I’m here today volunteering.”

She wants to spread that support and positivity to other kids.

“Having been a patient there initiated the whole idea,” says Kristie of her daughter’s volunteer work. “She loves to work with kids. Always has.”

“These kids have so much going in their lives. They’re trying to stay strong,” Kalli says. “As a volunteer, you can’t show them you’re sad.”

Kalli volunteers in the Teen Connection at Children’s Volunteer Services with roughly 50 other students to help in various capacities from the book cart to kids camps and hospital greeters.

“She’s been a great volunteer,” says Angela Loyd, a spokeswoman who oversees the Volunteer Services department. “She’s so cheerful and nice when helping families.”

“I want to make kids feel welcome at the hospital. Just knowing their minds are at ease a little bit as we play is worth my time,” Kalli says. “Sometimes we would paint or draw or play house. Really whatever they wanted to do that day. I always felt bad when it was time to leave because I didn’t want to leave.”

Knowing she has the power to make a difference in someone’s life is rewarding, Kalli says. She encourages other young people to consider service opportunities in their areas.

“No matter what, always have a positive attitude,” she advises. “How you express yourself can affect the way other people view you and how they’ll react to you.”

Visit childrensomaha.org for more information.

This article was originally printed in the Spring/Summer 2018 edition of Family Guide.

Mango Smoothie

Photography by Baldwin Publishing

Try this recipe for a quick breakfast or healthy snack. Mango, banana, and strawberries make this fruit smoothie sweet and delicious.

Find more great recipes at HealthyKohlsKids.com. The Healthy Kohl’s Kids program is a partnership between Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Kohl’s Department Stores to educate children and parents about healthy nutrition and fitness.


1 cup cubed frozen mango

3/4 cup sliced ripe banana

1 cup halved strawberries

2/3 cup low-fat (one percent) milk

1 tsp honey

1/4 tsp vanilla extract


In a blender, combine mango, banana, strawberries, milk, honey, and vanilla. Blend mixture until smooth. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size: 1 cup; Calories: 195; Fat: 1g; Saturated Fat: 0; Cholesterol: 4mg; Sodium: 38mg; Carbohydrates: 42g; Fiber: 5g; Protein: 5g. Yield: 2 servings

Driving Past Trauma

December 12, 2014 by and

I was driving along Dodge Street on a Friday afternoon. Rush hour traffic.  As I stopped for the red light in front of Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, my mind was on pizza and movie night.
I needed to order the pizza, swing by the video…


My van shook like it had been hit by a bomb. The sound was deafening. I saw a big truck bounce away from me, towards oncoming cars, and then back into traffic—where it hit another van that I later learned was full of children.

My mind went blank. And then I started shaking.

Police came (lots of them), but no ambulances. Incredibly, no one was hurt. The little kids in the other van were weepy, but physically fine. We exchanged information, waited on the police report, and watched the truck driver go away in the back of a police car.  My husband helped me get my damaged van home.

All okay, right?

Well, actually. No. All weekend, I was jumpy and shaky. I kept trying to brush it off. But come Monday morning, I went to climb into my husband’s car to drive to work. It would be the first time I drove alone on the same street as the wreck.

I looked at my beat-up van. I didn’t want to get into the car. I had to force myself into the seat—to turn the key—to open the garage door. Things that were usually just automatic took conscious effort. I realized that the accident had affected me more than I even realized.

I share this because trauma is a sneaky thing. And recognizing it, both in yourself and especially in your children, is extremely important. The sooner someone receives therapy after major trauma, the sooner he or she can recover. My trauma was minor, but it still impacted my emotions and my behavior. Now, imagine a child experiencing or witnessing major trauma. Untreated trauma can negatively impact a child’s behavior and decision-making as a teen and well into adulthood.

Children learn what they live, and those who grow up in homes with violence are repeatedly subjected to traumatic experiences. They are far more likely to continue that pattern into their adult lives.  Short-term, they are likely to demonstrate behavioral, social, and emotional problems, as well as have trouble in school. Long term, little boys who grow up in violent homes are more likely to become abusers, and little girls are more likely to choose partners who abuse them. These children grow up with higher levels of depression and anxiety.

Therapists will tell you that significant trauma experiences can cloud your self-image and all of your decision-making. Getting those traumas into perspective can truly be life-changing.  If you or your child has been affected by violence or other trauma, please contact Lutheran Family Services. Services are provided on a sliding scale so you can get the help you need.  Please do it as soon as you can.


Blueberry Banana Smoothie

Running late? This low-fat smoothie makes a perfect on-the-go breakfast or afternoon snack. Creamy fat-free yogurt with sweet blueberries and banana are also a fresh start to any day or a great way to refuel after school.

For more healthy recipes, visit HealthyKohlsKids.com. The Healthy Kohl’s Kids program is a partnership between Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Kohl’s Department Stores to educate children and parenting about healthy nutrition and fitness.


    • 1/2 banana
    • 1/4 cup skim milk
    • 1/4 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
    • 3/4 tsp honey
    • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries
    • 1/2 cup ice


            1. Cut banana into small pieces and place in blender.

            2. Add the milk, yogurt, and honey. Blend on lowest speed until smooth, about 5 seconds.

            3. Gradually add blueberries while continuing to blend on low.

            4. When blueberries have been incorporated, add ice. Increase speed and blend to desired consistency.

Yield: 1 serving

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 smoothie. Calories: 161, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 72mg, Carbohydrates: 35mg, Fiber: 3g, Protein: 3g.

* Nutritional information is based on ingredients listed and serving size; any additions or substitutes to ingredients may alter the recipe’s nutritional content.