Sharp HealthCare’s philosophy — The Sharp Experience — means improving the health and well-being of the entire community. This extends far beyond the bedside or clinic.
From the creation and implementation of “green” programs to help reduce waste throughout the organization to offering specialized programs and services for our community members — including education, outreach and support — Sharp strives to respond to the needs of San Diegans, often in partnership with local service organizations.
One such partnership between Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center and the nonprofit Options For All is a prime example of Sharp’s mission in action. Options For All creates and supports opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live, work and enjoy life with dignity and respect. Currently, 28 volunteers and their coaches serve at the hospital.
“We serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who can experience the pride of personal and professional accomplishment from pursuit of their goals,” says Miriam Burke, program manager with Options For All. “Some of our participants have been providing volunteer work at Sharp for over 20 years and still enjoy going there every day.”
Option For All volunteers provide a variety of services within Sharp Chula Vista, from unboxing supplies and stocking shelves, to wrapping batteries to prepare them for recycling, and volunteering in the cafeteria, cleaning and sanitizing surfaces. Most recently, a volunteer team has begun a new project, removing items from patient dining trays to be recycled rather than going to the landfill.
“The tray recycling was a step we wanted to perform daily, so we needed consistency and many hands,” says Lisa Golden, manager of Volunteer Services at Sharp Chula Vista. “We thought of our Options For All participants because they are reliable and motivated to do a good job. The cafeteria staff love them because they make their job a little easier by clearing the trays before they get washed.”
According to Golden, when carts of patient food trays come down to the kitchen after breakfast, the volunteers remove everything from the trays. They have three bins — trash, recyclable and liquid waste. If milk or juice cartons are partially full, they empty the contents so that they can be recycled. It is her hope to bring on more participants to do the lunch and dinner trays in the future.
“The volunteers have clocked 2,100 hours of service toward the recycling program,” Golden says. “They bring joy to their work. Each day, when they check in, they stop by the volunteer office and say hello. It’s the highlight of our day to see their smiling faces and a great reminder to provide service with a smile.”
Burke reports that Options For All participants feel a sense of pride providing volunteer work at Sharp Chula Vista. They enjoy socializing with the hospital staff and providing meaningful service in the community. The skills gained from volunteering at Sharp allow them to build their resumes as they prepare to enter the workforce.
“Participants enjoy having a sense of purpose and belonging,” Burke says. “Sharp Chula Vista provides this experience for them. In fact, one of our program participants says that going to Sharp to ‘work’ is her life.”