With more than 270 volunteers representing 50 high school programs across San Diego County, Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Junior Volunteer Program is the largest in the Sharp system.
While providing much-needed service to the hospital, the program also gives high school students the opportunity to serve the greater good while gaining valuable insight into the ever-changing world of health care.
Five students lead the group as members of the Junior Auxiliary Board, taking on the additional leadership role as part of their service. To participate on the board, junior volunteers must be part of the program for at least six months and have accrued more than 50 hours of service. One of them, Kayla A., has logged more than 700 hours of service in her first two years volunteering at Sharp Grossmont.
Making a difference
Kayla, a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School, has always wanted to help people. She finds ways to help classmates, and developed a strong desire to do more outside of school. With a sister and mother who volunteered at Sharp Memorial Hospital — and dreams of one day becoming a nurse — Kayla knew just how she could make an impact while gaining experience in the type of setting in which she plans to work in the future.
As a patient aide in Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s West Tower, Kayla assists nurses, stocks supplies, helps discharge patients and answers phone calls.
“My favorite part of volunteering is helping patients emotionally during their stay,” she says. “I like to take time to talk to each one, ask about their lives and provide a listening ear when they need it.” Kayla also assists in the Volunteer Services office and acts as a pet therapy escort at the hospital.
For her first year on the Junior Volunteer Auxiliary Board, Kayla served as treasurer. In her current role as vice president of events, Kayla helps plan and promote events such as Saturday with Santa and an annual Easter egg hunt for employees and their families. She also helps to coordinate food and clothing drives and brainstorms ways to improve and expand how the junior volunteers support the fundraising efforts of the Grossmont Hospital Auxiliary Board.
With such a large number of students providing so many hours of service, Kayla believes it is important to show gratitude to those who dedicate their time to help others. She does this by planning appreciation events like quarterly movie nights for junior volunteers. “My goal is to show them that they are appreciated and that volunteering does have its perks and rewards. Also, it’s a great way to connect with other volunteers and make new friends,” she says.
A window to the future
Kay Andalis is the junior volunteer coordinator at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Managing a force of nearly 300 high schoolers is no small job, and she has enjoyed watching the program grow over the years.
According to Andalis, it is impossible to measure the impact it has on both the hospital and the students who participate. “These kids are our future. Having worldly experiences outside of school and home gives them a new perspective that is difficult to achieve in other ways at that age.”
In addition to showing students how they can have an impact in the health care field, the Junior Volunteer Program gives students a chance to be independent, interact with patients and staff and create their own meaningful experiences. Working in conjunction with the adult Auxiliary also allows the juniors to see how the fundraising arm of the hospital works and what they can do to support it.
Every day, there are many bright, enthusiastic students walking through the halls of the hospital eager to help where needed. “Our junior volunteers bring so much energy to Sharp Grossmont,” says Andalis. “It’s exciting to watch them learn and grow, and we are honored that they choose to spend their time here. We hope they leave with experiences they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
For the news media: To talk with Kay Andalis about Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Junior Volunteer Program for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.