If Kim Hooper wore a pedometer during the day, at one point it would most likely zero out, unable to record a number large enough to represent the number of steps she takes. Hooper is a gal on the go in life, but especially during her workdays, where she can be found walking miles upon miles within the halls of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
Her business cards may state, “Clubhouse and Activity Coordinator for Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital,” but “Non-Stop Runner,” “Energizer Bunny” and “Angel on Earth” would all be equally appropriate. From the minute Hooper’s steps into her office each morning, she is off and running, rarely sitting down.
The 17 years Hooper worked as a preschool teacher may have given her practice, keeping her on her toes as she worked with young children. Nowadays, she gets to work with children of all ages, as she manages the Children’s Clubhouse at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.
Tucked into the upper level of the Children’s Emergency Department, the Children’s Clubhouse provides a fun place for kids to play while family members receive care at the hospital. From arts and crafts, to puzzles and games and television, the Children’s Clubhouse is full of fun awaiting to happen, for the children who visit. Truth be told, it is also great fun for the volunteers who help staff the ten shifts per week that the Clubhouse is open. From 9 a.m. to noon, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, the Clubhouse is open for children to set aside the worries of the outside world, and focus on what they do best: play and have fun. Hooper oversees both the Clubhouse, as well as the team of volunteers that help keep the doors open, so there is a place for children to go.
Though the Spokane Association of Realtors selected the Clubhouse as their volunteer focus, ensuring a large pool of volunteers staffs it, should there ever be a shift when no volunteers are able to cover the Clubhouse, Hooper will be found picking up the pace and walking quickly through the hospital, reaching the Clubhouse in time to fill in, ensuring the doors always stay open and the children are given every opportunity for fun. This is on top of the other responsibilities she has in her role as the Activities Assistant within the Family Support Services Department, at the Children’s Hospital, where she gets to work one on one with children who are patients.
Dare to mention any of this praise to Hooper, and she is sure to quickly deflect it, citing the incredible team she works with within the Family Support Services Department, as an essential reason for the ability of the Clubhouse to continue to serve children. And she would be correct. It takes a village to raise a child; likewise, it takes a team of dedicated and caring people who give of themselves, to allow those children moments of carefree joy and fun. We’re just lucky that Hooper is one of those people, and she presses on, one step at a time.
To play in the Clubhouse, children need to be healthy, at least 3 years old and potty trained.
There are so many great nonprofits, and so many great causes, so how do you decide which charity events you will attend or which causes you will support?
On a personal level, I feel that valuing our children and elderly should be a priority; therefore, I choose to support the ones I think best suited to make a difference in our most vulnerable populations. It always amazes me how wonderfully young children and those of advanced age tend to blend in perception. It’s all about the lens in which you are looking.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment other than your family?
I firmly believe that giving others purpose in life creates a happier existence. When you can bring a sense of purpose and empowerment to another who may be struggling, it gives great joy not only to the recipient, but to you as well. Self-empowerment is a very powerful thing no matter what your age, race, gender, or ability.
What is the most important contribution you’ve made to Spokane over the last 10 years?
There are so many perspectives to that question. I want to say that it is one experience, but it’s not. It’s the many different ways you impact others by your day to day interactions. My choice to work for a nonprofit gives me the freedom to narrate my own program and support others in a way that best benefits us all. This not only means the individuals in need of support on a day to day basis, but the way you ebb and flow with your fellow entities that collaborate with each other, building that network for sustainable support.
What qualities do you look for in a friend?
Loyalty, optimism, genuine kindness and support with a love for wine, laughter and Gonzaga Basketball!
Aside from your family, what is your most treasured possession?
My little dog Cricket and anything given with love that makes a memory.
With all the activities you juggle, how do you handle the stress that might come with it? What keeps you grounded and focused?
My family, first and foremost. They are my strength and my anchor. Taking a bit of time each day for self-care whether that means taking that five minutes of positive inspiration quote searching, or time to read, music, art, or gardening. Anything that nourishes my soul.
Do you have a cherished family tradition?
Decorating the Christmas trees with my kids.
What are your favorite places to travel, and leisure activities in which to participate?
One of my favorite places to go is my sister’s ranch in Montana. It’s where I unplug and breathe. Literally! Until a few years ago they had no internet, and the only TV was by satellite. There is absolutely no stress standing in a creek fly fishing for hours with the sun on your back and the butterflies fluttering about your knees. Apart from that, it’s anywhere with a beach.
What is your favorite for each of the following?
Book: I love all books, but my favorites are Fiction. I have read to my children since before they were born, and we are all readers to this day. There is nothing like the love of books to open the window to the imagination.
Movie: You’ve Got Mail
TV Show: I loved Downton Abbey, but since that is no longer an option, I’m partial to Sherlock, and Ms. Fisher’s Murder Mysteries - I love anything with a little flair.
Who do you really admire?
Honestly, I admire anyone who is genuinely kind, and projects joy from within. That kind of optimism is so very rare and unexpected. We have a wonderful gal in our Arts in Healing Program that radiates that kindness and she is so very effective at spreading that joy in everyone she meets. She really projects that ray of sunshine when she enters the office.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Future goals?
I have wonderful ideas for things I’m going to do, but as for now, I’m playing it day by day and enjoying the journey. Life is ever changing and I never want to be idle. Never stop learning and evolving.
What is one thing you have to do every day?
Let my family know I love them, and center my focus on the good. I think everyone can benefit from a little reminder of the power of positivity. Sometimes I need a little inspiration from quotes that I write down and keep with me throughout the day. Other times, I watch a positive clip from YouTube or read an inspirational book. The more I take in, the more I can give back. It’s amazing how far a genuine smile and a kind word travels.
What is, hands down, your favorite food or meal?
Fresh Crab. Lots of work, but so worth the effort.
Any hidden talents, or fun trivia facts about you?
I was once a florist, and took four years of Horticulture in high school. It is one of the reasons I love gardening!
Describe your perfect day.
Waking up to a sunshiny day, visiting my patients and making them smile. Having my volunteers come in for their shift with a smile and leave knowing they are making an impact and having fun doing it. Knowing I in turn, am appreciated for my efforts, and ending with a great game of Gonzaga Basketball after work.
What are some local organizations whose causes you support, either by attending an event for them, or you are just a fan of their cause?
Any of the outdoor camps for kids. I was a counselor for a few years and know the magic of getting kids out in nature. There is no other experience like it, and it has a special place in my heart. My husband and I exposed our kids early to hiking, biking, fishing and camping. Anything outdoors. It has such long lasting effects on the kids who experience it. Respect for the planet, and how we impact everything on it.
What is the best advice you have been given?
Just keep swimming!
For what are you most grateful?
What is your favorite place you have travelled to?
What is your dream vacation?
See as much of the world as possible. Take it all in.