‘Singing housekeeper’ at Akron Children’s Hospital to retire

AKRON, Ohio - Alphonso Calhoun has a gift.

It's one he's used to brighten the lives of his coworkers, families and patients at Akron Children's Hospital, helping get them get through difficult days and helping others heal.

Mostly going by "Choo Choo," Calhoun is also known inside the hospital as the "singing housekeeper."

"Whether it be the weather, whether it be what we are feeling, what we are talking about events of the day, he just breaks out in song and it's just a great way to start out the day," said Peg Klamert, working a reception desk on the hospital's third floor.

While doing his work throughout the hospital, Calhoun serenades those around him.

"It's a good thing, especially in a children's hospital, to be able to just make everybody smile even the children. I think that's great," said Tieara Brice, a coworker.

"It was like a joy in their bad times so we have had people comment even after they have left," said April Sherman, Calhoun's supervisor.

Along the way, there have also been requests.

"I was working in the burn unit and the daughter asked me to sing amazing grace and so I did... When I got done, she (the mother) passed away and it was kind of like hard to handle, because it touched me," Calhoun said.

He also remembers singing to a young cancer patient every day.

"Her name was Emily. I used to sing for her every morning, you know. She is no longer here, but it gave me great pleasure, you know, to walk in the room. And she would say, 'What is the song of the day?' and I enjoyed that. When you think about things like that, I felt touched that I was able to bring joy to somebody," he added.

Wednesday will be Calhoun's last day before he retires. After he leaves the hospital, his coworkers said the halls will be quieter.

"We are so used to hearing him sing and he's so funny. It makes me laugh and I'm going to miss him," Heather Connely said.

"I'm going to miss the people. That's why I come to work every day. It's like family," Calhoun said.

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