This week and next, backpacks will be slung, pencils will be sharpened, and textbooks will be cracked open when kids go back to school. But for the past 10 weeks 29 teens, ages 14 to 17, have spent their summer working hand-in-hand with LDS Hospital nursing staff as Junior Volunteers.
The Junior Volunteer Program at LDS Hospital runs each summer, beginning in June and ending in August. Junior Volunteers are asked to commit one four-hour shift in various hospital and nursing departments giving them opportunities to give service, meet new people, learn new skills, and gain valuable experience in a hospital environment.
By the time the 2013 summer ends, LDS Hospital Junior Volunteers will have spent nearly 1160 hours giving out warm blankets to patients, refilling water pitchers, delivering flowers and medications and helping patients to their cars after outpatient procedures.
“I just love it,” says 17-year-old Tanner Barton, a senior at Stansbury High School in Tooele. “I actually think I get more out of helping than the patients do.”
Every Monday while school is out, Barton drives 30 miles – one way – from his hometown of Erda, Utah to volunteer at LDS Hospital. It’s something he’s done for the past four years. He dons a blue polo, clean and pressed khakis, smiles as he passes people in the hall, and gets right to work helping the nurses with whatever they need while caring for patients recovering from surgery.
“It’s quite a commitment for these kids to give up their summer and even more of a commitment to do it four summers in a row,” says Lynne Wilde, Director of Volunteer Services at LDS Hospital. Juniors who volunteer for four summers in a row are also eligible for the hospital’s scholarship program.
“They provide such a great service to our staff and our patients,” says Wilde. “It’s great to get to know these kids and see the good work they provide. We absolutely love having them here.”