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Normally I wouldn’t write about this but I kind of felt like it was related in some way. As I was putting on my Raggedy Ann outfit, my dad got a glimpse of me right as I was headed out. He made a joke but then on a serious note made a reference to his time at the hospital. I recall him telling me that there was a young lady in the hospital from UCSB volunteering there. But at the time I had thought she was one of the “green shirts.”

Five years later, I’ve realized it wasn’t the green shirt khaki pant volunteers. It was a Raggedy Ann! My dad said this young lady had come in to see him a couple times during his stay. I didn’t see my Dad as much of a talker back then so I was shocked to hear that he did communicate with her. They talked about her education and a lot of why she was volunteering.

In that moment, I realized this wasn’t all about me becoming a better empathetic and mindful person. I could now truly say what the experience is like for the patient. It may not have been me receiving a visit from a Raggedy but seeing how happy my father was when he spoke about the young lady who visited him made me get a better understanding of what my visits do for them. I am still in awe that the visits my dad had gotten came to a full circle with me volunteering.

Not everyone can say that they fully understand the concept behind the Raggedy program. And I still cannot, but I can say, I have a stronger passion for what I am doing now. It was this program that stuck by my father in his time of need. Knowing him, if he was talking education or extracurriculars, he had his mind occupied. He clearly wasn’t thinking of his chemo and he definitely wasn’t lonely. I’m glad to hear he had been involved in this wonderful program in some way. My father and I bonded over this minor detail that I may have missed in the past but I am glad to say that it eventually made sense. I told him that’s what I do when I dress up as Raggedy. I do exactly what that young lady had done but with different patients. I didn’t intend on writing about this but I just needed to write about what had happened. Mostly because it was so unexpected and I am truly grateful about it all.

—Shandeep Ahdi

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