Volunteering - a good way to help other people

By Heather Lavers
Roncalli Central High School
Port Saunders, Newfoundland

Learning how to knit, hearing what happened ‘way back when', or just listening to what's on a patients mind.

These are all things that a teenager can do as a volunteer at a hospital or health care centre. In Western Newfoundland, the regional health care corporation coordinates the Junior Volunteer Program to assist in the delivery of quality health care to the patients and residents.

Volunteens from left to right (front) Rebecca Rumbolt, Kelly-Lynn Gould,
(back) Melissa Offrey, Nicole O'keefe & Heather Lavers. .Missing from photo Heather House.

This program is open to teenagers 14 years of age and over, with their parents permission. To become a Volunteen you must submit an application that includes two recommendations. Once the program board reviews the applications, the Volunteens are invited to an orientation at the hospital, what is expected of them, the hospital procedure and given a tour. After a blood test is screened by the board the Volunteen is ready to begin work. This can consist of a couple of hours after school or on weekends, one to three times a week, depending on the teens personal schedule.

Some duties of a Volunteen include running errands for patients, residents and nursing staff, assisting staff on the floor, refilling water jugs, watering plants, delivering flowers, assisting with special programs and events, visiting with patients and residents, writing letters or playing games to help the time pass pleasantly.

Melissa Offrey, one of this year's Volunteens said she wanted to join the program because, "I want to improve myself and become more considerate and caring. This program is will do that for me. If my work brings even a little happiness to someone's life that makes me feel good."

Paulette Critchley, acting site manager at the Rufus Ginchard Health Center, is pleased with the work of volunteers.

"I think this is a wonderful program, especially for our long term residents. The Volunteens can do little extras for them that the staff don't have time for, such as reading them a book or writing letters for them," says Critchley.

"This program has equal benefits for the teenagers who are volunteering. It is a good way for them to see if they want a future career in this field of work, it also lets them know that they can make a difference by helping someone who really needs it."

Volunteering in the health care sector is a good way to expose yourself to the realities of life. It is also a good way for the elderly residents in the hospital to have company and do regular activities. It makes their living environment more like home which helps them not to get lonely. Being a Volunteen makes you feel good as you help others to feel good. Help someone by volunteering today.