If you have been at Providence Care Hospital recently you may have noticed some volunteers wearing red shirts; these are the 2017 Summer Youth. The Summer Youth are students ages 14-18 who are volunteering their time throughout July and August. We sat down with Chris O’Connor, Volunteer Coordinator for Inpatient Activities and Youth Volunteer Programs, to talk with him about this unique program.
While high school students require 40 hours of community service in order to graduate, Chris mentioned that the majority of the Summer Youth have already completed their volunteer hours. He cited valuable work experience as being one of the many motivators for this group of volunteers. Many of these students are thinking about pursuing careers in health care and through their daily interactions with staff, patients, and clients, they are gaining valuable experience.
Our Summer Youth bring energy and enthusiasm to the programs that they help with; some of these volunteers spend time with patients in the morning coffee group or playing cards, and others assist patients to go for walks and engage them in conversation.
Chris O’Connor had each of the Summer Youth write down what the program means to them; one volunteer said “The Summer Youth program has provided me with numerous opportunities to connect with patients and develop new skills.” It is clear from responses like these that their interactions are having a meaningful impact on both the volunteers, and the patients themselves.
In addition to spending time with patients and clients, the Summer Youth also support a number of different fundraising events. The Strawberry Social is an annual fundraiser supported by the Summer Youth and this year over $400.00 was raised for our Patient Comfort Fund. The Summer Youth will also be holding a used book sale July 26-27. We know that the money raised from these initiatives will make a difference in the lives of our patients and clients.
At the end of the 7-week program some of the Summer Youth will transition to Youth positions during the school year. Chris O’Connor said that the Summer Youth program is a great opportunity for first-time volunteers and is a great way to mentor these volunteers to continue their commitment and their gift of time.