About the Foundation
The Gift of Reading: Judie and Peter Wolken
Judie and Peter Wolken have made a gift to support the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’s Reach Out and Read (R.O.A.R.) program for 10 years. R.O.A.R. supports cognitive development by encouraging parents to read to their babies in the NICU.
"When you read, you are transported to another place, another world. You are exposed to new ideas, your horizons broaden. Reading also takes away the noise, allows you to be distracted from your own problems by being immersed somewhere else," Judie observes. For her reading is a lifeline. Supporting R.O.A.R. provides an opportunity for the Wolkens to give that gift to others. She hopes when NICU parents read to their tiny babies they can stop thinking about their worry and stress and focus only on their love. The former teacher hopes these early experiences will encourage the babies to grow into lifelong readers.
The Wolkens' gift was also inspired by admiration for the NICU staff. Judie is deeply impressed by the clinical team's dedication to the babies and parents. "They are always searching for new and better ways to take care of the babies for the best possible outcome and involve the parents as part of the care team." R.O.A.R. is the perfect example of that commitment. “Where else in the world besides El Camino Health would busy doctors and nurses take the time to read to babies?” she asks.
"We were very excited to hear about Judie and Peter Wolken's support for this reading program," says Dr. Malathi Balasundaram, NICU neonatologist and founder and co-chair of the Family- Centered Care Taskforce. "With their gift we can support the program for the next 10 years by giving R.O.A.R. bags to NICU families, empowering families, and helping them bond with their babies."
Judie credits her philanthropic outlook to her parents, who were exceptionally civic minded and generous in the small Ohio town where she grew up, and Peter, who lovingly supports all of her philanthropic initiatives.
The Wolkens' involvement with El Camino Health Foundation began in 2006 when Judie joined the Imagine Campaign Cabinet, a group of community members helping to lead the fundraising effort for the programs and services to be housed in the new patient tower, then being built on the Mountain View campus. She subsequently volunteered on the gala committee, joined Hope to Health, and in 2012 became the visionary and guiding spirit behind a new fundraising event, "Norma's Literary Luncheon." The luncheon, a memorial tribute to her dear friend and book club mate, El Camino Health founder and benefactor Norma Melchor, was the first way Judie was able to share her love of books and reading while doing good for the community. The Wolkens' commitment to R.O.A.R. spreads that gift wider by sharing it with a new generation.