Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – The Effects of Volunteering Go Both Ways

Name: Kelsey Kanaga
From: Altamonte Springs, Florida
Grade: 12
School: Lake Brantley High school
Votes: 117

“Good Morning Ma’am, my name is Kelsey and I will be your volunteer for the day.
Can I do anything for you today?”

She looks away from the window and locks eyes with me, a hopeful glint appearing
behind her eyes. “Would you mind maybe sitting with me?”

“Of course,” I say with a smile while I walk over and sit in the visitor’s seat
opposite to her, “for as long as you like.”

You never really realize the impact volunteers have on a group of
people until you witness it first-hand. My time as a Florida Hospital
volunteer has been some of the best of my life, I have grown so much
as a person and been transformed in ways that I cannot describe. From
going room to room with snacks to stocking shelves, I knew whatever I
was doing was going to make a difference in the long run; may it be
directly in someone’s life or just by making the nurses’ load
more bearable. Being with these people while they’re struggling
through some of their hardest times is truly a humbling experience,
one that everyone should undertake. Many of the patients staying in
the hospital, for whatever reason, have no loved ones to visit them.
Seeing us, talking to us, it gives them hope for what comes next.
Some of them simply want us to sit with them so that they know
they’re not alone, no words are needed.

Leaving your mark on the world is something everyone aspires to do.
People want to be remembered after leaving this earth, not just be
another person who took up space and used earth’s resources but
gave nothing back. Volunteering for sick and injured people gives
you that mark. While it may not be a huge worldwide phenomena, the
lives you changed and affected on the job are your footprints. Ones
that others will soon learn to walk in.

The biggest challenge, as a volunteer, is simply finding the time. At
Florida Hospital I worked Mondays 4-8, doesn’t sound that heavy
right? As a high school student involved in sports, band, and dual
enrollment classes, allocating my time to other things proved to be
more difficult over time. While I tried my very best to be there
every week, sometimes the schedule simply wouldn’t work out. I
think that was my biggest challenge, knowing that there were people
somewhere that needed me but me simply not being able to get there.

While volunteering makes a huge impact on the lives of others, it
also has a severe impact on my life. All I have ever wanted to do was
help people, which is where my desire for nursing comes in. Talking
to these people and hearing their stories has not only made me a more
compassionate individual, but also a better leader and friend. The
benefits of volunteering go both ways and I am very blessed to have
been a part of such a phenomenal program with such amazing people to
work for and alongside.

This field has been my dream ever since I was a little girl, forming
these connections has only strengthened my desire and have inspired
me to be better in day-to-day life. Taking these experiences with me
to college will not only help me become a better nursing student but
will also help me see things through a grateful pair of eyes.

“Thank you for sitting with me, I hardly ever get visitors
anymore.” She says looking up at me as its time to make my exit.

I smile as I’m leaving the dim lighted room, light pouring in from
the hallway as I bid her goodnight.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

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