Stamford Health Volunteer Spotlight: Tina Stietzel
Stamford Health is thankful for the many volunteers that make a difference at the hospital every day. Our staff ensures that our volunteers are well-matched and well-recognized for their individual strengths and talents, with a fit for everyone — from teenagers to adults! Today, we're spotlighting Tina Stietzel, who volunteers with her dog, Boomer. We hope his story may inspire you to volunteer; you can learn more about our volunteer opportunities here.
Thank you for all the work you do for Stamford Health! Tell us about your volunteer work.
I started volunteering with Boomer in June 2018. I volunteered regularly for two years for one hour a week until the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Last June, Boomer and I returned to Stamford Hospital – and it was like we never left! He knew exactly what to do.
What do you typically do on your shifts?
We come every Monday – it is part of our routine. Boomer and I visit patients in the occupational rehab unit, the pediatric unit, and certain floors of the hospital tower for patients who request visits. We also attend group therapy at the behavioral health unit.
When patients meet Boomer their faces light up – I can’t even explain it. Boomer and I sit with patients for about 5-10 minutes at a time. Most patients pet Boomer and talk to us about their dog. I think our visit helps them forget where they are for a little while. Boomer is a lover and knows exactly what to do to make people smile.
Why did you become a volunteer?
My children are grown up and I am no longer tied up in kids’ sports and activities, so I had the free time. My neighbor was a volunteer and mentioned to me that some volunteers bring their dogs to the hospital. I had no idea!
Boomer and I are certified through Pet Partners as a therapy animal team. Pet Partner Training is a series of classes for the dog and handler. We are evaluated every two years to confirm Boomer and I can respond appropriately to various situations. Boomer has a wonderful disposition, and I am lucky to be able to share Boomer with others in the community.
It is a very rewarding experience. Every week is different.
Do you have any advice for others looking to get involved?
Stamford Hospital is a great place to volunteer. I recommend it to anyone. It feels good and it’s fulfilling – and Boomer gets free massages for an hour every week!