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Retired Air Force Pilot Is A Volunteer Cuddles At St. Louis NICU

Retired Air Force Pilot volunteers his time at the NICU by holding the sweet little babies.

Around the nation volunteer opportunities are popping up in the NICU's encouraging people to come and cuddle the babies. Cuddling programs are almost in every NICU now where men and women can come and hold babies so that the kids are getting as much attention as possible. Parents of NICU babies can't be with the babies 24/7. Parents have responsibilities at home with work and other children. So when Mom and Dad are not there than the baby is just laying alone. Nurses and medical staff are so busy that they can't just hold and snuggle babies all day.

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David Young, retired Air Force Lt. Col, is one of the volunteers who participate as a cuddler in the NICU program. Young goes to the NICU at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. He loves being able to look at these precious little babies and he is in his happy place when he gets to take one of his volunteer shifts at the NICU unit. He mentally prepares himself every time he goes by washing his hands and feeling a sense of calm wash over him.

Young has found himself in tears many times while being at the NICU at Mercy because he feels such a strong love and tranquility for all of the babies at the hospital. He loves being able to go and take care of the babies. He said that it feels great and that he truly feels like he is making a big difference in the lives of these babies. While being interviewed he began crying and said that he loves being able to think about what their future could be.

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Young has been part of the program for about a year and a half. He volunteers every other Friday for five hours. The only thing he does is goes around and spends quality time with the babies and snuggles them. His job is to love the babies and to give them special one-on-one attention while their parents are away and can't be with them. In order to be a volunteer, he had to go through a very strict screening process. The hospital that Young volunteers can have up to 100 babies in the NICU and so they are always accepting new cuddlers to join the program. They are always looking for volunteers. Young has 8 children of his own and so he knows the importance of human interaction for the little babies. He said his youngest daughter was a premature baby and she had to spend 3 1/2 weeks in the NICU. Since they had 7 other children they couldn't spend all the time with her and Young said that was very hard on him and his wife.

The staff and other volunteers at the hospital say that Young is very steady and hard to shake up. They call him the "baby whisperer" because of how good he is with the little ones. Everybody said that they can tell that he is obsessed with the kids and he truly cares about each and every one of them. He is such a gentle and soft soul.

Thank you to everybody who volunteers their time as a cuddler in the NICU at the hospital. You are truly amazing!

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