Our website uses cookies. We use cookies to remember settings and to help provide you with the best experience we can. We also use cookies to continuously improve our website by compiling visitor statistics. Read more about cookies

Lizette Borghuis: ‘My work as a volunteer is really an addition’

On December 7, 2020 it will be National Volunteer Day again. As the Máxima Center, we cannot do without our volunteers. They form an important link in the work for children and parents. They show people around, do crafts with children or read to them. And if they have to, volunteers offer the proverbial shoulder to cry on. Lizette Borghuis has been with us since the beginning. "Children's reactions can be truly rewarding."

One day, Lizette passed the almost-finished Princess Máxima Center. She had seen on TV what was unfolding behind that colorful facade and thought she would love to work there. She applied as a volunteer. A few months later, Lizette was present when the first children crossed the bridge from the Wilhelmina Children's Hospital to the new center. "I am not new to the medical world. I used to work as a medical analyst on doctoral research into leukemia. I now have my own company, organizing courses for medical professionals. But what I'm doing here is something else altogether. Lizette has always combined her work and three children with volunteer work. Not only in preschool child care and at her children's school, but also as a trainer of seeing-eye puppies.

In fixed teams
Lizette likes it that volunteers at the Máxima Center work in fixed teams. "We've gotten to know each other well and we can always trade shifts if necessary. I'm always here for half days on Fridays. And it's great every time. In the beginning, when everything was still new for everyone, I did a lot of hospitality-related work. Accompanying people, showing the way when they did not know where to find something. Later on, I focused on the library, for which I made the catalog. And I make drawings and do crafts with the children. Unfortunately, that is not possible right now due to corona. Which is a shame, because drawing together helps the children relax. It's a time for them to tell their stories and you can be really there for them. The reactions from parents tell me that my work is really an addition."

Stay a little longer
The Máxima Center wants to invest in its volunteers. They receive good coaching and there is an orientation program before you start. This serves to inform volunteers about the mission and the method, about the children and the processes that families go through when their child has cancer. During work meetings, employees from different disciplines talk about their work to provide volunteers with a complete picture. Lizette: "A psychologist explained how to handle difficult situations. Especially when families come here for the first time, it can hit you how unfair life can be. Friends always wonder how I do it. And it's not easy, that's true. But as a team we can help each other. And we can also always talk to our coordinator, Gitty Lammertink. Lizette finds it impressive how wise the children can be. "Their reactions can be truly rewarding. I was doing crafts with one of the children one day. When she was told she was allowed to go home, she said: can we stay a little longer? I'm enjoying my drawing so much.’

More information
The Princess Máxima Center wants to make the stay of sick children and their parents/family/carers more pleasant with the efforts of committed and motivated volunteers. The aim is to reduce stress and offer space for the children's development. The volunteers provide relaxation and distraction by doing crafts with the children, reading to them and taking the library cart around. They also look after children when their parents have a conversation with the oncologist/psychologist. They welcome ambulance personnel and accompany them to the appropriate department and one of the volunteers organizes an art class every two weeks. In addition, the volunteers support the major activities and events in the center and accompany patients for research at the WKZ or UMC Utrecht.