Teen Volunteer Heads Newborn Photography Program
First Student to Chair a Volunteer Committee
Melody Sun, a 16-year-old sophomore at Mission San Jose High School, has just taken on a large responsibility with Washington Hospital’s volunteer organization, the Service League.
Sun, who started looking for volunteer opportunities since she was 15, recently volunteered to become chairman of Washington Hospital Service League’s Newborn Photography Program, which is entirely volunteer-run. Already an avid volunteer, Sun saw an announcement seeking an enthusiastic individual to help make the program run smoothly and decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
"I think it’s an exciting experience," Sun says. "It’s really neat that (the Service League) let me have this opportunity."
She is the first student to be appointed as Chairman of a committee. The Service League President appoints chairmen. Current president Marilyn Williams appointed Sun as chair of Washington Hospital’s Newborn Photography Program.
Williams says volunteer opportunities like those provided at Washington Hospital through the Service League are vital for young people.
"In Melody’s case, she’s going to take on a lot of responsibility," Williams says. "You don’t get that kind of opportunity in a lot of places."
The Newborn Photography Chairman is responsible for the overall program, keeping track of the weeks activities, working with volunteers as needed, ensuring that the logs are kept up to date, making sure the supplies are filled and checking the ink and the paper in the printer. (The camera is digital and parents receive copies of their babies' pictures).
It’s also a great experience for young people to learn how to interact with other people in a professional setting, according to Williams.
In addition enjoying trying to get the newborns to smile for their pictures, Sun is happy to be volunteering in a health care setting. She has had positive experiences with her doctors and she herself aspires to become a physician - with hopes of enrolling in Northwestern University’s seven-year medical program when she finishes high school.
Sun said she encourages other students to get involved in volunteering. She also mentioned that the Newborn Photography Program always needs more smiling faces to help out during the week.
"You get to know yourself more (through volunteering)," Sun says. "It’s a really great experience."
Newborn Photography Program
The Newborn Photography Program began in June 1995. Before the volunteers took on the responsibility, Washington Hospital nurses took the pictures of the hospital’s newborns. This program has been one of many areas that the volunteers provide vital support, allowing patient caregivers the opportunity to better serve patients.
The volunteer program was designed to offer families the opportunity to have newborn hospital pictures as well as enhance the hospital’s security system. Growing Family - First Foto, a professional photography company, keeps each baby’s photo on file for a year.
Linda Gentner, Service League President, who served from 1992 to 1994, was instrumental in starting the program, which raises about $7,000 annually. The money is used to provide Service League Scholarships.
Several volunteering opportunities
Other volunteer opportunities for students include staffing the lobby desk, the gift shop, critical care area, and the Community Health Resource Library. Last year, the Service League began accepting high school students into its patient feeding program and is looking for volunteers to feed patients dinner during the week and lunch and dinner on the weekends. The Service League is also looking for volunteers for the new piano-playing program in the main lobby of the hospital. Volunteers for the new program will play from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m. Requirements for the new program include an audition, experience playing before an audience and a desire to make people feel good through music.
Student Volunteer Requirements
· Must have a "B" average
· High school counselor’s recommendation with an unofficial copy of your high school transcript
· Student volunteers usually start volunteering during their sophomore year and continue through graduation. Volunteers are required to staff a service a minimum of twice a month.
For more information about volunteering or to learn about the Washington Hospital Service League’s student scholarship, visit www.whhs.com <>, click on Giving to WHHS and select "Volunteering Opportunities."
Patient Feeding Program Reaches New Heights
Washington Hospital’s Volunteer Patient Feeding Program, which began in October 2000, just reached a significant milestone. Since the program’s inception, volunteers have fed 1,000 patients!
It takes as long as an hour to feed some patients, according to Tess Garcia, a Washington Hospital Charge Nurse who works with volunteers. The volunteers who feed patients free the nurses to perform other tasks. For the patients, many of whom are disabled or elderly, volunteers offer needed comfort. Volunteers in this program are able to spend time with individual patients, freeing nurses to care for multiple patients, knowing that someone is able to spend valuable time with them.
"I tell (the volunteers) every time I see them that they’re like angels," Garcia says. "It’s really beneficial on both sides - for patients and nurses."
Garcia says the patients are always very thankful for the time volunteers spend.
Throughout the Hospital, volunteers perform a range of duties, supporting staff and physicians, as well as helping and comforting patients.
The hospital’s volunteer patient feeders are: Ophelia Allen, Karen Cantero, Synthia Hung, Clarissa Montoya, Linda Orr, Sherie Pilado, Ruby Tam, Emma Tondag and Viviana Valiente.
National Volunteer Week starts April 18. If you’re ready for a fulfilling challenge, call, click or visit Washington Hospital to find out how you can become a volunteer!
Prospective member information sessions are open to the public and are held monthly at the hospital. Call Volunteer Services at 791-3465 to find out the date of the next information session.