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Riley’s 90 Year Old Treasure: How Audra Hansen Helps the Hospital

Blog Riley’s 90 Year Old Treasure: How Audra Hansen Helps the Hospital

Audra, a former elementary school teacher who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, helps families with whatever they may need while they are waiting for a child to complete a procedure or operation.


Step into the waiting room at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and Audra Hansen, who has logged over 7,000 hours at the hospital during the past 40 years, may be there to greet you.

Audra, a former elementary school teacher who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, helps families with whatever they may need while they are waiting for a child to complete a procedure or operation.

Audra’s work at Riley began shortly after her husband died in the late 1970s. She joined a new church, Meridian Street United Methodist, and met an older woman who had volunteered at Riley for many years. These women had a lot in common and Audra decided that if her new friend enjoyed it, she might, too.

She began by volunteering with the baby holding program, providing comfort to babies and young children who did not have a family member present to hold them. However, it soon became clear that there wasn’t a large need for baby holders, so Audra made a change.

“We’d often get down there in the afternoon or early evening and there would be family members with their children. We spent time walking the halls, trying to find a child that needed attention. So I went to the office for volunteers and talked to the gentleman in charge. I frankly told him that if I was going to spend my time volunteering, I wasn’t going to spend that time just walking the halls. He placed me in the playroom for a bit, but then asked me if I could run the waiting area as the current volunteer wanted to visit her family and he wasn’t sure if she’d return.”

For a period of time, Audra ran the waiting room as a volunteer. When they hired a full-time receptionist, she was asked to stay and provide extra support – she’s been there ever since.

Audra helps waiting families in whatever way she can. Sometimes it’s guiding a young child to the cafeteria for a snack. Other times, she may need to help a family find their way to the recovery room. And, as often as needed, she’ll simply sit down and chat, always lending an ear and her heart.

“I often have conversations with families, sometimes just the parents or grandparents and sometimes whole families,” she says. “You’ll get families in there who need a bit of personal attention.”

When not at the hospital, Audra enjoys spending time with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as well as volunteering at her church or participating in activities at her retirement community. She talks with friends and reads books, but gets the most enjoyment out of her volunteer work with Riley.

“Some people aren’t as fortunate as I’ve been in my life, and if I can help them in any way at all, then that’s great.”

-- By Gia Miller

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