Remember candy stripers? They were young people volunteering their time to hospitals. They wore red and white striped smocks (hence the name) and did things like push library carts from room-to-room, fetch water and ice, deliver flowers and other general duties.
They may no longer be called candy stripers now but there are still teen volunteers. Donning smart red polo shirts and crisp khaki pants, teens from 15 schools representing six area counties volunteer their time in more than 20 departments at Athens Regional Medical Center. Each teen is assigned a four-hour shift each week during the summer.
Not just any teen can earn a coveted teen volunteer spot. To qualify, our teens must be over 15. They must have a minimum of a B average. Interested teens must apply, provide three teacher/counselor recommendations, write an essay on why they want to volunteer and attend an interview. Many of the teens are interested in Health Careers or take health occupation courses in high school, though that is not a requirement.
Many teen volunteers find careers at Athens Regional. One such story involves a teen who volunteered who later became employed as a Patient Care Tech/Unit Secretary. She attended nursing school while working weekend shifts for us and was accepted into a Nurse Practitioner program.
Another employee – a supervisor – began her career as a true candy striper. In 2012, she celebrated her 25th anniversary as an employee of Athens Regional Medical Center. She is now supervising teen volunteers who work in her department each summer.
Next time you’re in our facility and see a bright, smiling face in a red polo shirt and khakis, take a moment to thank them for volunteering and spending their time here. This is our next generation of healthcare workers. Our future. Let them know we appreciate them.