Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – More than Christmas Caroling

Name: Olivia Villamagna
From: Largo , FL
Grade: 12th
School: Largo High School
Votes: 19

Olivia Villamagna


I started volunteering with Suncoast Hospice for my service
requirements for IB. I have volunteered about 150 hours in the past
year. There were many times that I found it challenging to see humans
in their state of dying, however I was able to overcome those
trepidations and be involved in an amazing organization. Through the
experiences with the patients, my life has been touched in
unimaginable ways. There is one experience in particular that
impacted my life and challenged my perspectives.

Throughout my volunteering career at Hospice I have been on a cheer team, where
five other students and I visit the same nursing home every other
week to talk to our patients. We bring them crafts and little gifts
and talk to them to bring them joy in their day. I also was selected
to be a part of the Teen Leadership Board. This board plans different
activities for the current teen volunteers, along with events for
perspective volunteers.

This winter I attended a caroling outing and wouldn’t trade the
experience for the world. Walking through the hallways of the nursing
homes and seeing the patients’ faces light up to the sound of “The
Little Drummer Boy” was one of the most rewarding things I have
experienced. Throughout the day we received many song requests, the
occasional “When I was a kid…” story and a few applauds.
However, it was what happened towards the end that changed my
perspective on life forever.

One of the nurses pulled a few volunteers and myself aside and told us
that a patient would  like to hear some songs, and we happily
agreed. We went into her room, said hello, and took a few song
requests. In the middle of one of the songs she started to cry. When
we had finished, the patient told us that these were her last few
hours on Earth. This took us all aback and the mood went from giddy
to somber. She said her dying wish was to be around young people,
singing Christmas carols and that we had granted her that wish. Even
though I was extremely sad, I realized something very important: What
the human experience is all about. I hope to share this realization
with others as well. It was amazing that a person I had never met
could be touched and comforted by me in their dying hours, solely
because we are humans, sharing a common humanity. I was able to help
bring peace and acceptance to a dying woman.

This is an experience I cherish and am honored to have. Through this
experience, I believe I am looking forward to a better community
where people that are not always the first helped still receive
loving assistance. I also am maturing into a young adult that helps
those that need help in my community; not only to form a prosperous
immediate community but a prosperous global community.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".