Over tea and cake at Stuart Nechako Manor on June 14, twelve youth volunteers are recognized for contributing their time to resident or patient care at the manor or St. John Hospital’s acute care unit throughout the past year.
A total of 513 hours were logged by the volunteers aged 14 to 17, as they assisted staff in food serving, diversional therapy through reading and games, and various household chores to improve resident or patient comfort in the facility.
“The old saying still stands, when you want something done, ask a busy person,” said Edna Oryshchuk, president of the St. John Hospital Auxiliary Society. “Youth volunteers work their volunteer hours around school, school activities, homework and often part-time jobs.”
Also known as candystripers for their identifying striped apron uniform, the volunteers also learned about hand washing for infection control, confidentiality regulations, and isolation rules. Their duty list is reviewed by management and union staff to ensure that their assistance does not intrude on others’ work duties.
Grade 11 student Chloe Friesen, who started volunteering with the Stuart Nechako Manor three years ago and logged 180 hours so far, was first looking to try something different, but stayed ever since.
“The beginning was a bit terrifying and you witness some things,” Friesen said. “You need patience, the listening abilities.”
Though she had no future career plans when she first started, she now would like to become a care aid.
“I want to be here working for the elderly,” she said. “I love listening to their inspiring stories…and I like seeing their smiles when you come into the room.”
For Grade 10 student Jillian Pearson, who has logged 48 volunteer hours since last October, it’s an opportunity to help with the community and fulfill high school requirements.
Pearson was already familiar with the environment, as some of her family members used to work at the facility.
“You learned lots of communication and social skills, ran errands, and you get to hear their stories,” she said. “They have some awesome stories.”
Youth volunteers who are graduating from high school and looking to pursue post-secondary studies in health care are eligible for a $1,000 bursary from the St. John Hospital Auxiliary. Those who volunteered for at least 100 hours and are at least in the second semester of their second year of accredited healthcare studies are also eligible for support from British Columbia Association of Healthcare Auxiliaries’ tribute fund.