Nicole Voelker, BSN, RN, CEN, has a passion for volunteering. She finds that giving to others enhances her well-being and helps her better care for her patients and team.
"Volunteering is an outlet for me," said Voelker, a clinical nurse in the Emergency Department at Duke University Hospital (DUH). "It is satisfying because it helps me recharge my batteries while simultaneously giving back to my community."
Voelker is a volunteer leader with the organization Capes4Heroes, which sews and distributes superhero capes to children with illnesses or life challenges. She and Emily Depetris lead an annual effort through the organization to distribute 300 capes to patients at Duke.
"Each cape is personalized with the child's first initial sewn onto the back of the cape," said Voelker. "It is hard work, but it is definitely worth it when you see a child receive a cape personalized just for them."
"Nicole is an amazing volunteer to work with," said Depetris, a child life specialist who works with the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and is also a volunteer with the organization. "She acknowledges the tremendous challenges our patients face and recognizes their resilience and strength – the qualities that make them true superheroes."
Voelker is also a regular volunteer with the Durham Animal Protection Society. Last year, Voelker led a toy and food drive for homeless animals in Durham County. The drive collected two car loads full of dog food, treats and supplies for a local shelter.
Voelker says that both her patients and her teammates are her inspiration. Her teammates' kindness and her patients' strength, encourage her to give back to others in need.
"Volunteering helps me make others' lives better, and that is very fulfilling," said Voelker. "That sense of fulfillment helps me better care for my patients and teammates, who are incredible people. Having the opportunity to care for others is always a privilege."