Heart Kids NZ
Empathetic. Generous. Kind-hearted.
When Katya Souvorova arrived in New Zealand from Russia in 1996, she could not read or speak a word of English.
Over the next five years, she taught herself English by translating books with a dictionary and by attending Playcentre with her children.
Now Katya is the friendly face of Heart Kids at the Auckland Children's Hospital.
As a Hospital Family Support Worker, Katya provides vital emotional support to families while a child is in hospital for a heart-related condition, including open-heart surgery.
She also assesses families to receive petrol, food and coffee vouchers.
Katya is known for putting her soul into her work and builds genuine connections with families, who are often at the hospital for long periods at a time and may need many years of follow-up.
People know she will stop for a chat, listen and be there as a shoulder to cry on.
Although Katya works part-time, scheduled hours don't mean anything to her.
Katya believes her life experience has helped her to connect with families from a range of cultures, religions and ethnicities.
"I am able to empathise with the heart families and provide them the support that they need," she says.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. Heart Kids will use its grant to buy hospital vouchers for parents and subsidise travel costs.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here
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