Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem- A Candystripers’s Duty May 12, 2014

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:31 pm
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A candystriper’s duty:

 *to smile a warm hello and assure a frightened face

    that the hospital isn’t really a terrible place

*to smile in reassurance that the food isn’t bad

*to return a smile to a face that is sad

*to smile when we’re happy and smile when we’re not

*to leave our smiles with a lingering thought

*to smile all the time ‘til the end of our shift

    and then when we’re done we can frown if we wish

    But somehow the smiling we’ve done that day

    keeps us smiling and we’re glad we smiled that way.



My father asked me to find this poem, because he’ll be speaking at a candystriper recognition evening this week in the extended care facility where he lives.  I wrote it when I was 15 for a display.  I volunteered at our local hospital and an extended care facility as a candystriper from grades nine through twelve, accumulating nearly 700 hours (close enough that I was given the charm for it).   I worked surgical, medical, and pediatric floors, as well as admitting.  We filled and distributed water jugs, distributed food trays, helped feed patients, ran errands, delivered flowers, etc.  I was only vaguely interested in nursing, and my hospital  time quickly informed me that I didn’t want to pursue a career in nursing, but I loved working at the hospital, helping people who needed my smiling face.  I will try to scan in the photo of me with the display.  I had to borrow a microscope to record the poem! lol


18 Responses to “poem- A Candystripers’s Duty”

  1. words4jp Says:

    Candystripers are a true blessing – such a welcome sight when a welcome sight is so needed 🙂 lovely piece!

  2. Leonas Lines Says:

    I remember Candystripers! I always wanted to be one, but I never got the chance. Enjoyed your poem and the memory it brought! Thanks.

  3. Lorien Says:

    Yes! I was a candy striper in high school too! I have some very clear memories of that time stored in the memory bank…one of an elderly man who obliged me by eating very well while I fed him, much to the surprise of his family and the nurses, none of whom could get him to eat. I remember being faced with people in all sorts of situations and realizing that life isn’t what we see in the Disney movies. The beauty in the little interactions that are real…

  4. beckyg1003 Says:

    That is a neat poem and an encouragement of how we easily help and uplift others with a smile. It’s a good reminder of how seemingly small things like a smile, can be so meaningful and helpful to someone who needs it.

  5. Oh I wish candy stripers were in every hospital ward and care home. Just to hold the magazine and help the silent elder to find words again…..

    • Not quite so many teen volunteers in the hospital these days as there were. We had a HUGE program at our hospital with hundreds of girls and boys (whom we called “Health Care Cadets”). Another sign of the baby boom, I guess.

  6. lordgodmose Says:

    I always thought it was candy stripper, like strippers for the sick. Is that a thing?

  7. When I was a young girl, my mom arranged for me and my two older sisters to be candy-stripers at our local hospital. That was almost 50 years ago and I still remember how wonderful it felt.

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