In Her Own Words
I started clowning in 1996 after taking a course at Hudson Valley Community College. I never thought it would become such an important part of my life. My clowning career as “DOLLY-DOO” took off one week after graduation. My hairdresser, who had four kids, asked me to come to her daughter’s birthday party. Knowing most of the people at the party helped me get through my first one-hour show. People liked me!! Suddenly, I was doing many parties, grand openings, company picnics and work for radio stations. I was so happy to think I could make a difference on someone's Special Day.
As the years went by I met many great clowns who helped me immensely. One was Loretta DeAngelus (Dr.Gigglebritches) and another was Marie Beck (Dr. Funny Bones). Several times Loretta asked me about being a hospital clown. I told her I didn't think I could do it. She would say, "You won't know until you try". In 2004, I attended a training session on hospital clowning given by Loretta. I discovered that hospital clowning is nothing like being a birthday clown. There was so much more to learn and I loved every minute of it. It was then that Dr. Wilma Pinkydoo was born.
My first hospital clowning was done at Saratoga Hospital. I was really scared to do this, especially after I found out that this hospital has a Nursing Home section. Because these residents have long lengths of stay, I was afraid that entertaining them was going to be a real challenge. Instead, it was the most wonderful thing that I was able to do. Being with these patients opened a part of my heart that I never knew I had. I grew very close to these wonderful residents. They crave attention and just want simple things like a little of your time. Time I had to give. We would do crafts, paint clay pots, paint shirts and much more. I would paint their finger nails, read a story and sometimes nothing at all. I would just listen or hold their hand until they fell asleep. These are simple things that regular hospital staff is often unable to do.
I feel fortunate to have been part of the lives of these very special people. Being a hospital clown isn't just for patients or residents. Hospital staff can always use a little cheering up too. Sometimes they will just come up to me for a good clown joke or a hug. Most often they’re looking for a "KISS" sticker. They all love kiss stickers on their name badges. A couple times a year, I join other Clowns on Rounds staff to paint windows inside the hospitals. We do everything from simple designs to seasonal scenes. We get compliments every week from patients, staff and visitors.
I have been lucky enough to practice hospital clowning: Saratoga Hospital, Glens Falls, Ellis, Sunnyview and Albany Medical Center. When I leave my job, I know that I have helped people forget their pain, fear and stress even if it is for a short time. I am very grateful to Clowns on Rounds for letting me be a part of such a fantastic group.
Executive Director’s note: Jackie was one of the funniest, most artistically talented and generous people I have ever known. She continued to to provide humor therapy during her long and painful battle with cancer in order to bring happiness to others in need. She is truly missed by us all.