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A Holiday Tradition

Melinda Matthews
Communications Coordinator
Texas Scottish Rite Hospital For Children

For the past 22 Christmas mornings, Brother Lewis J. Kravetz, 32, Valley of Dallas, Texas, has given up time with his own family to be with patients at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. He's glad to do it. Because his faith doesn't celebrate that day, this dedicated volunteer spends time on the patient floors making sure that patients get fed, hugged, and entertained.

"Most kids go home in time for Christmas, but there are those who, because their home is far away, must stay at the hospital," Kravetz says. "Many times they've had surgery a few days before and can't make the journey yet. We try to make it as bearable as possible."

Kravetz arrives early. He's usually serving breakfast to patients as they arise at 7:00 or 7:30 in the morning. "Usually one of the parents is with the child, but sometimes there is a child who is alone," Kravetz says. "Everyone makes a special effort to keep that child from feeling lonely."

Thanks to generous donations around Christmas time, there are plenty of toys for the children to play with that day. "All of the new toys keep the kids occupied most of the time, but if a child gets fussy, we take a walk down the hall until he quiets," Kravetz adds.

An active Scottish Rite Mason, Bro\ Kravetz began volunteering at the hospital before that first Christmas Day, more than 22 years ago. He was one of a group of about a dozen fellow Masons who were recruited to push patient beds from the wards to the surgery suites.

"They needed some muscle," Kravetz remembers. "I started coming on Christmas Day to help out because the nurses on duty needed help. Many of the care givers and other volunteers were home spending time with their families. I was glad to do it because, unlike many, my family didn't need me that morning." r

Many holiday activities go on that afternoon, and the special contribution of Kravetz that morning may go unnoticed. But the staff, patients, and families whose lives he has touched appreciate his commitment to the hospital and its work.

Lew Kravetz volunteers faithfully throughout the year, too. He spends each Wednesday morning in the cast clinic, helping remove casts from patients after surgeries. He transports the patients to radiology for X-rays or to orthotics to be fitted for braces. Above all, Brother Kravetz tries to soothe the patients and allay any fears that the parents may have about certain procedures.

During this season of giving, we are particularly grateful for the selfless commitment of volunteers like Lew Kravetz. His dedication, and that of the more than 700 other hospital volunteers, helps make the high quality care possible for thousands of children treated at no charge at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children is one of the nation's leading pediatric centers for the treatment of orthopedic and related neurological and learning disabilities. There is no charge for treatment at the hospital and admission is open to Texas children from birth to age 18. Supported entirely by voluntary donations since its founding in 1921 by a group of Scottish Rite Masons, the hospital currently has more than 11,000 active patients. This year the hospital is celebrating its 75th birthday.