DANVILLE — Veteran musician Woody Wolfe doesn’t need much in the way of payment.
“If I get a smile, I’m pretty happy,” he said.
And smiles are what he tries to bring to children, with his non-profit business Heart to Hand Ministries. Heart to Hand was born in 1992, when Wolfe quit his job as a Geisinger Medical Center Life Flight paramedic to serve the sick in a different way – by visiting the rooms of child patients and playing music for them.
He had first started playing for patients at Geisinger in 1981, but it wasn’t until years later that he decided to make it his day job.
“I left because my heart was captured by something bigger,” said Wolfe. “To me, this was a calling.”
The idea came to him when he talked with a teenage boy in Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital who said it was very boring staying there.
Now, he spends every week day making regular rounds not just to Geisinger but to other Pennsylvania hospitals as well. Mondays and Tuesdays see him driving to Philadelphia to play for patients at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Wednesdays take him to Penn State’s Children’s Hospital in Hershey and Thursdays are spent at Janet Weis.
Heart to Hand’s reach is not limited to Pennsylvania, though. Wolfe has traveled all around the country performing for sick children and their families. An upcoming trip will see him visiting South Carolina.
“You end up getting smiles from a child who hasn’t had one in while and tears from the family,” he said.
“Playing in children’s hospitals, you obviously play a lot of children’s music,” he said. He’s taken requests that have ranged from “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” to country songs, rock songs, hymns to more recent artists such as Miley Cyrus and Coldplay.
A lifelong Danville resident, Wolfe also regularly plays at local events such as the Iron Heritage Festival and will be playing at the upcoming Spring Fling on May 4. He will perform from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of the Sovereign Bank. He’s invited his fans across the country on Facebook to come visit, and though he doesn’t expect a lot to show up he knows the family of one young fan from Philadelphia plans to show up.
“I’m someone who’s just been very fortunate to take a hobby…and I get to play for families that have literally become my heroes. These kids and families what they go through, I can’t imagine. 32 years later, I can’t imagine what their struggle has to be like,” he said.
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