Meet Wlatka Peric-Knowlton, Our Featured Volunteer from Phoenix!

15 Nov

Meet Wlatka Peric-Knowlton, Our Featured Volunteer from Phoenix!

Get to know our volunteers!

Do you volunteer at a specific hospital? Phoenix Children’s Hospital

How long have you been volunteering with Musicians On Call?  2.5 years

Are you a Volunteer Guide or Volunteer Musician? Guide

What is your occupation outside of MOC? “I am a retired Adult Nurse Practitioner (NP), Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), and Diabetes Consultant. Most of my 35-year career as an NP was spent at Carl Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ where I retired 4 years ago. It was a privilege serving our veterans in many roles including being a Primary Care Provider, initiating and managing an Anticoagulation Clinic, being a NP in Endocrinology, initiating and coordinating a Multidisciplinary Outpatient Diabetes Education Program for Veterans & their Significant Other(s), and coordinating an Insulin Pump & Continuous Glucose Monitoring Program for Veterans with Type 1 Diabetes.”

What is your story? What connects you with music and why do you volunteer with MOC?In 2014, while attending the American Association of Nurse Practitioners National Conference (over 5,000 NPs attended) in Nashville at the Gaylordd Opryland Resort & Convention Center I purchased a ticket to attend a MOC fundraising concert event featuring Martina McBride and The Railers.This was the first time I heard about MOC. Martina, Cassandra & Johnathan Lawson (2 members of The Railers) gave an inspiring presentation about MOC and why they volunteer for MOC. I was very impressed and touched by the sincere and caring MOC stories they shared. At that moment, I decided I wanted to volunteer for MOC as soon as they came to Phoenix. My lifelong goal has been to help others heal and I’ve always loved music so I thought volunteering with MOC would be a wonderful and fun way to combine healing and music. And so 2 years later when MOC came to Phoenix in 2016, I started volunteering as a Guide at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Music has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. My mother shared stories of singing to me before I was born and that even as an infant in the German refugee camp for immigrants where we lived I always loved music. Music, singing, and dancing was part of my life early on. I can’t imagine a life without music.
Music is intrinsic to all cultures. Much research has been done all over the world that demonstrates numerous benefits of music to the body and brain. From decreasing pain, lowering blood pressure, increasing antibodies for immune function, decreasing stress-related hormones like cortisol, decreasing seizures, enhancing memory and learning, facilitating calmness and relaxation, and many, many more benefits. Beyond the physiological benefits of music, there are many “intangible” benefits that cannot easily, if at all be measured but can be felt and experienced. Despite the fact that music can be good medicine, many of our medical institutions do not utilize music to facilitate optimal healing. I wanted to volunteer with MOC because it provides an avenue where music can be shared with patients and their family members at the bedside.Music can make us smile, it can cause positive and profound emotional experiences. Music can heal our emotional, psychological wounds. It can help us better cope with life’s losses. Music can bring joy to our hearts. If can open the door to our souls and heal our spirit. By volunteering with MOC, I get to participate in being a small part of the healing journey of many children, teenagers, and parents of these hospitalized infants, children, and teenagers.

Has your life changed because of your experience with MOC?  “Volunteering with MOC at Phoenix Children’s Hospital has enriched my life. I receive more than I give from the children and their parents and my fellow volunteers. My experience with MOC at PCH reinforces the power of hope, love, kindness, and empathy. It has taught me to “be more in the moment” and made me appreciate how blessed I am.

What is your favorite #MOCmoment? There are so many special moments…one evening, a preteen young girl was sitting in her bed, no smile, kind of sad, very quiet. When our musician, Cindy Weir, started playing guitar and singing, 3 female teens who were visiting stood up and started dancing and singing and they were able to get the girl out of her bed and she came alive and animated joining in the dancing, silliness, and singing. They were having a great time. The girl’s mom was sitting in the room and she was smiling and clapping. The girl’s brother was videoing everything on his smartphone. Everyone felt like they were at a concert, not a hospital. Music brought happiness, fun, and joy to everyone in the room including Cindy & me. It was transformative!
Another special moment was when our musician Daniela Brandlin was singing and playing her guitar for a mother who was sitting and holding her infant in her arms. We noticed that the mom started crying during the song. Once the song was finished the mom told us that she had heard the song many times before but it never had as much heartfelt meaning as that evening. She told us that every time she hears that song in the future it will be a special reminder to her of how close she felt to her baby that day.

Do you want to help us deliver the healing power of music? Apply to volunteer as a guide or a musician today!

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