Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hope Student Volunteers: “You get as much as you give”

Hope HealthCare Services has been lovingly supported by volunteers for its entire three decades. Each day, they share their time with others, making a difference in the lives of people in life’s final chapter.

They come from all walks of life, including from local high schools and universities. Hope has made the volunteer program meaningful and enjoyable for students.

A volunteer since she was 15 years old, Breanna Yocum is a ten-year veteran of the program. She says she has “done everything.” Breanna especially enjoys spending time with children in the Hope Kids Care program, which helps children and their families cope with grief or a serious illness. “We play games, read books… it’s a time for them to not think about their illness. What we do is not about their illness, it’s about them.”

Breanna said Hope helped her family when her father was a hospice patient, and she wanted to give back. In her words, “You get as much as you give.” She added, “Volunteering at Hope teaches you how to deal with life, how to relate to other people and situations.” As a psychology student, that is important to her.

Volunteer Shane Lince agrees. “Hope is the best place for clinical experience if you’re going into medical school, because of the interaction with people.” An FGCU graduate, Shane is going to the National Institutes of Health to participate in radiological oncology research. “Entering medical school without working in palliative care would not have given me a balanced perspective,” he said. “I will be much better prepared to help people at the end of life.”

Shane said he was apprehensive on his first visit with a person on hospice care. “When I crossed the threshold into his room for the first time, I didn’t want to appear to be patronizing, but it was never that way. I thought he would want to talk about his condition; he wanted to talk about life, and he was interested in my life.” Shane says this experience will make him a better physician someday.

“Just as our student volunteers enrich the lives of others in the community, they have the opportunity to enrich their own lives through our unique learning and social experience,” according to Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith.

Beckwith pointed out that many young people become Hope volunteers to fulfill their school’s requirement for community service hours. “However, once they get involved, they see it as more than just something they have to do. As one college student told us, ‘I wish I had started doing this a long time ago.’”

Breanna and Shane agree that regardless of where your studies may lead, service as a Hope Student Volunteer is the right choice as a foundation for career and for adulthood. As Shane said, “There is a major need for people to understand” the special needs of others. Breanna knows that she will continue to get as much as she gives.