Volunteering is truly a family affair for the Quan family of Rancho Palos
Verdes. Not only have Carol Quan and her three children given their time
to Torrance Memorial Medical Center, but even Carol’s mother has
gotten in on the action.
Daughter Olivia, now 21, and a student at UC Irvine, was the trendsetter.
As a high school student, she chose to participate in Torrance Memorial’s
high school volunteer program during her sophomore and junior years. Her
duties in Escort Services included transporting and discharging patients,
delivering items to patient rooms and ferrying lab specimens.
The experience has affected her life. Olivia plans to enter nursing school
after graduation. “My experience at Torrance Memorial definitely
solidified my interest in nursing because I enjoyed being in the hospital
and working with other volunteers, nurses and staff,” she says.
“I met so many great nurses and think they are awesome people!”
Olivia’s experience motivated her mother to give it a try.
“I was already doing volunteer work like servingonthe PTA, butthoseroleswererelated
to my children. I decided to do something for me,” Olivia’s
mother, Carol, says.
Carol joined Luminaries, the group that assists with events and fundraisers.
She also volunteered in the Labor and Delivery Unit, helping patients
with the check-in process and helping them to feel comfortable. She now
acts as a greeter at the main entrance.
Carol already had warm feelings for Torrance Memorial because of her children’s
experiences there. Her youngest child, Davis, visited the emergency room
twice for sports- related injuries. But the most impactful interaction
came when middle child, William, who has intellectual disabilities, suffered
a grand mal seizure and had to be brought to the ER. He was 12 at the time.
“They got us in quickly and the nurses were extra special and kind
to him,” says Carol. “As a mother, it was an emotional time
for me. They made me feel and calm about William’s situation.”
William’s disabilities didn’t keep him from carrying on the
family tradition when he got older. As a volunteer, he assisted the volunteer
office and helped with preparations for the Holiday Festival.
“Volunteer Services was so nice and let him work on special projects,”
says Carol. “The experience gave him a lot of confidence, and that
confidence helped him get a job working in the mailroom at Toyota.”
Davis, a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, followed in his
older siblings’ footsteps. He’s in his fourth year as a Nova,
in the high school program for children of Luminaries volunteers. He volunteers
in Escort Services and also has helped at the Holiday Festival and other
“Volunteering at Torrance Memorial is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Not many people get the chance to see the inner workings of a hospital,
so the knowledge I gained is unique in every way,” he says.
The only Quan family member who hasn’t volunteered is husband and
father, Jeff, whose schedule prevents it.
“He feels left out,” Carol laughs.
Carol even urged her mother, Akiko Takenaka, to get involved. Akiko emigrated
from Japan in 1965 and was hesitant because English is not her native
language. But she finally relented and began volunteering weekly in the
gift shop operated by the Torrance Memorial volunteer auxiliary.
“I was a little scared when I started,” Akiko says, “but
little by little I felt more confidence. I realized, ‘Wow, I can
do this!’” Akiko described a recent interaction with a new
father who was buying flowers for his wife. “He joked about getting
a discount for his first baby and I laughed. It was fun and made me happy.”
Carol sums up the experience that she, her children and her mother have
shared: “We’ve really benefited. It’s so much fun learning
about the hospital and how people are cared for. And it’s gratifying
to help and reassure people who may be worried or distraught. We get as
much out of it as we give.”