The Best Job They Ever Had

How one generous couple is giving back in more ways than one

Visiting the hospital can be a stressful experience. That’s why Ann and Wayne DeLaroche are always ready to offer a smile, an ear, maybe even a hug.

For years now, the couple has volunteered at St. Jude’s Expressions Kiosk in the medical plaza, where the wares – from jewelry to apparel – have been thoughtfully chosen by Ann, who also helps stock and staff the gift shop.

“Every day is a blessing that we’re there,” Ann says. “I love the people we get to meet and that each purchase goes to helping our cancer programs. It’s the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had in my life.”

In addition to giving thousands of hours of their time, they’ve also made generous philanthropic gifts—most recently to St. Jude’s 3D mammography project. For Ann, a breast cancer survivor, helping acquire today’s most advanced breast screening technology is especially poignant.

“I know firsthand how important it is to have the best equipment and experts there for you,” says Ann. “Many of our kiosk customers are cancer patients. We wanted them, and all women, to feel comforted knowing they can have the latest and greatest at St. Jude.”

This pair of high school sweethearts, who have been married for 55 years, moved to Southern California after retirement to be near their children and grandchildren: Their daughter, Michelle, a nurse, and their son, Michael, who works in the pharmaceutical industry, each have a son and a daughter.

A new home meant a chance to meet new people and find ways to serve their community. They volunteered for Meals on Wheels – and still do – but wanted to give even more time. Ann began volunteering at St. Jude in 2011, and soon was here four or five days a week.

“When she took over Expressions, she was spending a lot of time away from the house,” Wayne says. “She asked if I wanted to volunteer too and I immediately said yes. I’m an outgoing guy and I enjoy interacting with people.”

“It’s a wonderful experience – or I wouldn’t be there,” Ann adds. “Having Wayne around made it all the sweeter. He is great at making everybody feel comfortable.”

This special couple has left an impression on many patients and staff at St. Jude.

“Ann and Wayne bring out the best in other people,” says Gian Santos, St. Jude’s manager of volunteer services. “They are a dynamic couple that share passion and pride in their volunteer duties. This has led to a thriving retail operation that directly supports patient care. The DeLaroches’ selfless contributions uplift and inspire others to extend our mission.”

“Being part of the St. Jude family has been incredible,” Ann says, praising the staff as well as her fellow volunteers.

“If you’re looking for something fulfilling, volunteering at St. Jude can fit the bill,” says Wayne who also serves on the Guild Volunteer Program Board. “It’s a wonderful way to retire.”

The couple also encourages others to make philanthropic gifts. Ann’s late sister, Marie, was a nurse and Ann often makes the gifts in her name. “I like to remember her, even after many years that she’s been gone. It’s one way to keep her memory alive,” she says. “If you’re able to make a gift, it’s a pleasure. We know that every dollar helps.”

Interested in volunteering? Contact Volunteer Services at (714) 446-2878.

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