During the summer of 2016, I decided I wanted to apply to become a teen volunteer at Texas Children’s Hospital. About five years ago, my sister volunteered as a teen during the summer program and loved it. We like most of the same things, so that was when I knew it was something I wanted to do. At the end of school last year, I remembered and put it in my calendar. I checked weekly for updates until the sign-up came out. Applying was almost a scary process. There were only 25 spots open just to get into the meeting and it did not guarantee you a spot. Luckily, I watched it closely all day and was one of the first ones signed up. The meeting was informational; it taught you the ins and outs of the hospital and what to do in emergency situations. We also selected a few placements that we thought would interest us. After that, we waited about a week to see if we were officially selected to be part of the program.
My favorite part about being a teen volunteer is getting to make a child’s day better just by doing little things. The satisfaction of making someone who is sick feel better is an indescribable feeling. I do the fun cart, which brings a variety of small toys for kids to pick from and keep. There have been times where it was obvious it was not a great day for the patient or they were not feeling well, and when we would show up their eyes would get big and they were very eager to see what was on the cart that day.
From being a teen volunteer, I have learned to be thankful for the things you have, that you are healthy, and when you are healthy to give back. Giving back is the most important thing because when a child or anyone is sick and are not having the greatest day, trying to make them feel better is a great feeling. I personally believe volunteering at the hospital has made me a better person. I am more aware of things and have learned to be more compassionate towards others. It has also helped me to be less shy and more open. With the job that I do, I go door to door and talk to kids, and/or family members, asking them if they would like anything and then help them pick something out. I have also learned to be a role model for others. Once people see the impact you have made on someone else’s life, they might feel that it is something they would want to do.
The most difficult part about being a teen volunteer is seeing sick children who are sad and just do not want to be there. I remember my first day I spent the whole ride home in tears thinking to myself no one should have to go through this, let alone a small helpless child who just wants to be at home and at school with friends. Another difficult thing to see is the same family multiple times. Being in the hospital does not only put stress on the children, but also the families. Some parents have to work during the day, so when I see someone who is alone in their room it makes me upset because I know if I were in their position I would need my parents there for comfort and support.
I am so thankful for this eye-opening experience these past few months. I intend to continue this program throughout the rest of my time in high school, and hope after college that I can continue volunteering as well.