KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This is “National Volunteer Appreciation Week,” and one special volunteer at St. Luke`s Hospital is entrusted with caring for some of the most vulnerable patients. It’s a gig that Bob McElwain thinks he’s “overpaid” for.
McElwain loves giving advice on the stock market and lamenting about the Royals’ rocky start to the tiniest ears in Kansas City.
“They don`t have much to say – they just listen,” he quipped.
When FOX4 sat down with him, the listener was Kayden, who was born three weeks premature with down syndrome. He`s in St. Luke`s neonatal intensive care unit.
“I just put the babies here on my chest. They can feel my voice and they can also hear me, and it just seems to be very soothing, they just sleep through the whole thing,” McElwain said.
He and his wife have been volunteers at St. Luke`s for 20 years. For the last five years, he`s come to the NICU to hold babies once a week. His low voice makes him the baby whisperer- one story about the Dow Jones, and the babies are soothed to sleep.
“They can feel the vibration,” he said. “Babies in their early years, about this size on up, need to be held, they need to be loved, and you don`t need to tell them that. They`ll know if they`re being held- that`s important.”
It`s important for their moms who sometimes must leave the hospital to care for other children. Linda Marron has a 10-year-old at home while Kayden is at the hospital.
“I know that when I`m not here, I know that my baby is not just in his crib, he`s being held and being loved,” Marron said.
And McElwain loves the babies.
“Oh I love it. This is the best part of my week. I feel like I should be paying them to let me do this, but don`t tell them that,” he said.
McElwain and his wife live in the Bishop Spencer Place and walk over to St. Luke`s together to volunteer.