Evergreen resident receives humanitarian award for volunteer service

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By Sandy Barnes

"I love babies," said Evergreen resident Kathy Magnani.
In the past 10 years, Magnani has spent more that 850 hours giving comfort to tiny infants in the neonatal intensive-care unit at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver. Each Thursday morning, she goes to the hospital and holds a baby for two hours.
"My job is to go in to cuddle these babies," Magnani said with a big smile.
Sitting in a rocking chair, she gives infants the kind of nurturing attention that nurses don't have time for — and the mothers are often unable to manage.
Because the premature infants need to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time, many of the mothers need to return to work and can't be with them, Magnani said.
"Usually they give me the cranky ones," she said. "When you hold the babies, they do settle down."
Most of the infants that Magnani encounters have medical problems, and are being closely monitored, she said.
By spending time with the infants, she is helping both the child and their families.
"It's one of the best things I do," said Magnani.
While at the hospital, she also gives mothers knitting lessons.
"They recruited me one Thursday afternoon to teach high-risk mothers how to knit," Magnani said. "It gives them something to do … They're delighted to have a person teaching them something."
For her dedication as a volunteer at the hospital, Magnani recently received a Frist Humanitarian Award, which are given annually to employees and volunteers in recognition of the philanthropic work of the late Dr. Thomas Frist Sr., a founder of the Hospital Corp. of America.
In addition to her work at the hospital, Magnani also has a long history of volunteer work with other organizations.
"My husband likes to take classes. I like to volunteer," she said.
She goes to Denver Safehouse regularly and answers the agency's crisis line for women who are victims of domestic violence.
"I love to listen to people," she said. "There's always a social worker close by," she added.
Before she began volunteering at Safehouse, Magnani said she went through a week of intensive training.
Many of the women who call are seeking housing, she said. However, often there is a greater need for shelter than the agency can accommodate, she said. Magnani refers the women to counselors and social workers who can help them.
Magnani also actively volunteers a few times each month with the Meals on Wheels program at the Seniors' Resource Center in Evergreen, taking food to elderly clients in the area.
"It's time management," she explains while discussing how she fits her volunteer work into her career as a Realtor.
Magnani began her volunteer work with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, for which she now serves as a volunteer trainer, along with giving presentations.
"I tell people, 'You can survive,' " said Magnani, who is a survivor of breast cancer.
She also served on the board of the Komen Foundation for seven years and as chairman of the organization's education department.
Magnani said much of her effort is spent encouraging women to increase their awareness of the disease and to adopt a healthful lifestyle to reduce the risk of cancer.
With her background as a volunteer, Magnani said that when she retires she won't be bored. Along with playing tennis and knitting, she is planning to continue helping people.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.