Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Not Just A Volunteer

Name: Raphael Francis Aguas
From: Gardena, California
Grade: 10
School: Mira Costa High School
Votes: 0

The
question that always comes up when I wear my hospital volunteering
uniform is, “Are you a nurse?”.

To
which I respond, “No, I’m just a volunteer.” But my answer has
changed since then.

Whenever
the phone rang with an errand during my first shift, a grumble would
never fail to make itself heard in the volunteer room, and some even
attempted to avoid it by leaving for the bathroom. It became apparent
that, to them, volunteering was just another extracurricular to be
checked off. I changed shifts hoping to be around more optimistic
people, whose reasons for volunteering mirrored my own: an
opportunity to help others. Unfortunately, the second group was not
much different, and I found myself constantly doing most of the
errands. Rather than switching shifts again, I decided to accept the
extra work and viewed it instead as a chance to further be of
service.

Discharge
calls often come within the last couple minutes of the shift when
everybody is just waiting for 5pm to pass. Whenever this happens, an
argument breaks out over who should go or if we even have to do it
since the shift is almost over. My response, however, is to discharge
the patient myself in the understanding that as much as we want to go
home after a four hour shift, the patient wants to leave even more.

In
one instance, this last patient turned out to be an elderly woman who
had been in the hospital for a while and was ecstatic to be finally
going home. Of all the interactions I’ve had while volunteering,
this, in particular, resonates with me as I realized the positive
impact I was actually making. Even the smallest, most seemingly
insignificant gestures, I’ve learned can mean the world to
somebody. When her daughter arrived to pick her up, she asked me that
recurring question: “Are you a nurse?”

That
time and every time since, my response has been, “No, I’m a
volunteer”.

Since
then, I have had the opportunity of training new volunteers, and I am
no longer alone past that 5pm mark.


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