The Children's Institute Blog

Amazing Volunteers: Michael Mokotoff

Posted: Apr 08, 2020 by The Children's Institute


Volunteer Michael
Amazing Kids. Amazing Place. At The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh, we have built our legacy on being "amazing." After more than a century of the highest quality care and service to children and their families, we are forever proud of our team members who don't just make a career here - they make a difference. With strong partnerships in our communities, we are honored and proud to include many dedicated volunteers as part of that team. Volunteers play a vital role in each of our program areas and we thank those individuals who so graciously give their time, talent, and abilities to help us as we continue pursuit of our mission: To Heal. To Teach. To Empower. To Amaze. The hours each volunteer contributes is truly an amazing gift to the children and families we serve.


Today, we highlight Michael Mokotoff who has volunteered at The Children's Institute for over a decade.

"I began volunteering at The Day School at The Children's Institute in January 2010 - once per week on Tuesdays," said Michael. Well before The Children's Institute, Michael completed his undergraduate degree in pharmacy and practiced as a licensed pharmacist in New York City. After one year in New York, Michael moved on to receive his PhD in medicinal chemistry from the University of Wisconsin. "I was then involved in medicinal chemistry research at the National Institutes of Health before moving to Pittsburgh for a faculty position in Pitt's School of Pharmacy, where I taught chemistry-based courses, as well as involvement in medicinal chemistry research before retiring in 2006 as Professor Emeritus after 38 years at Pitt," said Michael.

"After I retired from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, I was interested in giving back to the Pittsburgh community through volunteering, specifically with children. I often saw the TV advertisements for The Children's Institute and thought that since I had been so fortunate to raise - along with my wife of now 53 years - 3 healthy children, who then blessed us with 7 healthy grandchildren, why not help out with children who have been less fortunate?"

Volunteer Michael with Birthday Cake"In my volunteer work, I very much enjoy greeting each of the children each Tuesday and individually saying their names, and often seeing their broad smiles. At lunch time, I usually help feed one of the kids. During the rest of the school day, I may read to the children, help the teacher and aides however I can, and finally dress the kids for school dismissal. I have volunteered in several different classrooms, with several different teachers and have met or worked with many of the kids - mainly the younger to early teen children," said Michael.

His dedication to our amazing kids and team members in The Day School even brought him a celebration of his own, as our team and students threw an 80th birthday party for Michael in one of the classrooms. With age being no number, passion is what makes an incredible volunteer, and The Children's Institute is honored to have a volunteer like Michael who our students have come to meet and know for more than 10 years.

When he's not volunteering, Michael likes to travel with his wife on adventurous trips - such as Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar, mostly to photograph the animals, learn about the countries and the people. 

"I also like to visit our 3 children and 7 grandchildren, who live in 3 different cities - two of which we can drive to while the third we have to fly to. As for my hobbies, I like woodworking, reading, photography, biking, and camping."

Thank you, Michael, for your dedication to our amazing kids and families!


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