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Teen hospital volunteers complete summer of service

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ROCKY MOUNT — This summer, the hospital welcomed a group of 117 junior volunteers. Composed of students from 13 schools across the Twin Counties, this year’s summer program turned out one of the largest groups of volunteers the hospital has seen to date.

The eight-week Junior Volunteer Program invites high school students to spend their summer working as volunteers in the hospital. The program is designed to allow students to explore careers within the hospital and learn about different ways to serve others.

Due to the large numbers, program manager Leslie Spencer separated the students into groups and entrusted those who have previously been a part of the program to lead as captains.

“Giving these students the responsibility to organize and manage a team of their own teaches them valuable management skills that they will need later in life,” Spencer said. “This program encourages these students to truly understand how a hospital functions and the many different jobs it takes to provide care for others.”

Raeven Anthony, a junior volunteer captain said, “Junior volunteering has taught me how to be flexible. Being flexible with my schedule has opened many doors to learning about different parts of hospital, how it works and what kind of people are needed for it to work.”

Volunteers’ job duties included helping hospital departments with various tasks, attending meetings with staff and organizing projects and events.

A notable project developed by the junior volunteers was the music therapy program for the hospital’s Danny Talbott Cancer Center.

“The cancer center has never had the ability to start the music therapy program until the junior volunteers came,” said Director of Cancer Services Sterling Grimes. “It helps provide a comforting environment for the patient and their family members while receiving treatment.”

The volunteers played instruments including the guitar, piano and even the Chinese zither.

Volunteers also hosted the Diversity Awareness Fair. The event allowed employees to walk through booths and learn about various cultures represented in the hospital, what diversity meant and how to be open to different perspectives.

“Sharing about different cultures isn’t just sharing about a different country, it’s about using a different perspective to look at the world as a whole,” said Yijing Lin, a junior volunteer who helped plan the diversity fair.

Heather Woods, compliance officer at Nash UNC Health Care and co-chair of the hospital’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, shared how proud she was to see the diversity fair’s success.

“These students worked hard and planned a beautiful event that educated our staff on a variety of cultures and perspectives,” she said. “It makes me so proud to see the success they had and the enthusiasm behind their work.”

As the program closes this summer, some of the junior volunteers reflected on how their time in the hospital affected them.

“Junior volunteering has taught me that no matter who you meet, what you do or even what you see, everything you learn will come in handy in some way, no matter the career you choose,” said junior volunteer Colin Bateman.

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