Sibylle Wallace is not someone who likes to do things halfway, especially when it comes to serving children. After retiring in 2013 from a 40-year career as a pediatric neurologist at Mt. Sinai Hospital, she was looking for a volunteer opportunity that would allow her to continue “giving back” in retirement.
As a doctor, she’d been drawn to the profession as a way to serve others, and found a particular passion and aptitude for treating the “whole child,” looking beyond clinical symptoms and taking into account the many factors impacting a child’s health. A large number of children she treated at Mt. Sinai were in foster care or on Medicaid, so she became intimately familiar with the challenges her patients faced in their everyday lives. Whether they were brought to her seeking treatment for epilepsy, ADHD, developmental issues, meningitis, pre-natal drug exposure, cerebral palsy, or any other developmental issue, Dr. Wallace saw her job as a combination of social work and medicine. As she explained it, “you have to see each child as an individual.”
Never one to shirk from responsibility, she also says that “when you see something that needs to be done, you just do it.” In her four years as a CASA volunteer, she has advocated on behalf of four different children. Upon the completion of her first case, one involving a 4-year old girl, she found out she had logged over 360 miles traveling back and forth to see her and others involved in the case. Now she is serving a 10-year old boy with learning and social challenges. She is focused on getting him help to learn to read and get access to different programs and services that can help him with socialization.
A grandmother of eleven who enjoys gardening and playing the cello in her spare time, Dr. Wallace has clearly dedicated her life to service to others. Ever humble, Dr. Wallace deflects praise and insists that there is much work for her left to do. Thankfully for CASA and the foster children she serves, this doctor isn’t stopping her house calls anytime soon.