It’s been two long years since students known as Red Shirts walked the halls of Providence Care due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Known for their helpful nature, the students’ absence had been felt among patients, clients, residents and staff who were delighted to welcome them back this past summer.
According to Volunteer Services, more than 50 students dressed in bright red shirts could be seen this past July and August at Providence Care Hospital, Providence Transitional Care Centre and Providence Manor. It was a welcome sight for many.
17-year-old Bryn Bain spent most of her days at Providence Care Hospital volunteering and says, “This summer, I figured it would be nice to put a smile on someone’s face, to talk to them and see how their day is going.”
A self-proclaimed people-person, Bryn says she volunteered this summer to see if her passion lies in healthcare.
“I’m interested in pursuing a career in healthcare so I wanted to dip my toes in and see what it’s like behind the scenes,” she says with a smile.
Student volunteers range in age from 14 to 18 and can apply their volunteer hours at Providence Care towards their community service requirements for high school.
For many of them, including 16-year-old Jack Shaao, the volunteer hours are low on the list of what’s gained through the program.
“This is one of the best experience’s I’ve ever had,” Jack explains. “I didn’t realize health care would be so nice; I thought it would be more academic. I got to talk with patients, learn how to socialize with people, and really help them on an emotional level.”
For five days a week, students like Bryn and Jack typically completed administrative tasks in the morning such as stocking cabinets, checking on soiled linens, filling water bottles and preparing meal trays.
Bryn says it was in the afternoon when all the “fun stuff” happened.
“There is this wonderful place called the Art Hive where you can take patients to do arts and crafts,” she explains. “You can take patients for walks or just friendly visiting. It’s great because you get to hear their stories.”
Jack says he enjoyed his work so much that he would often stay past his assigned shift to talk with patients and clients. He adds getting those he was working with outside in the fresh air separated a good-day from a great-day.
“Because you’re helping people, it’s also helping you experience joy,” says Jack, wisely.
Patients at Providence Care Hospital such as Rosemary Gibeault know firsthand the importance of youth volunteers. Rosemary spent most of her days with the summer youth volunteers and calls them a godsend.
“Everything they do for me is fantastic” she says happily. “They get me out of my room and it breaks apart the mundane parts of the day.”
Janet Hunter, Director of Volunteer Services, says the return of programs such as summer youth volunteers is making a positive impact on health care.
“The youth volunteers play a huge role in our patients and clients emotional wellness while supporting staff along the way,” says Janet.
“Volunteers are an important part of Providence Care and we’re so happy to have run another successful, summer youth program.”
Summer may have unofficially wrapped up with Labour Day behind us, but it’s not goodbye for Bryn and Jack. Both teens have been hired by Providence Care as patient assistants, performing similar duties as they did over the summer, but this time as paid employees.
“I’m very excited to continue my work,” says Bryn.
The students agree their experience as youth volunteers has confirmed their desire to pursue a future career in healthcare. They hope to positively impact the lives of people everyday and credit Providence Care for planting that seed.