It’s the time of year every student looks forward to – summer. They don’t have to worry about classes, tests or homework. But for some teens, volunteering is on their to-do list. Why? To help figure out if a certain career is or isn’t right for them.
Carle Foundation Hospital each spring recruits teen volunteers for the summer. High school students 14 and older are eligible to take part. The minimum commitment is one three-hour shift per week, and teens start around the end of May or the beginning of June.
Coordinator of Student Volunteer Programs Abby Brooks was a volunteer at Carle when she was 14.
“I was set on becoming a physician, but after volunteering, I realized it wasn’t for me. I have heard many stories like my own. Volunteering helps teens figure out if the medical field is the path for them or it helps some see a better path,” Brooks said.
“It is also a great way to contribute to the community. If teens have an interest in medicine or helping people, Carle is a great place to be.”
Ellison Radek, a freshman at Champaign’s Centennial High School, volunteered last summer for The Caring Place. She plans to volunteer again.
“The best part of my day was playing with the babies. It was such an enriching experience,” Radek said.
Radek’s mom Johnalene and grandpa Mike Mann, who both work at Carle, gave her some great advice.
“They believe there are endless opportunities in healthcare,” Ellison Radek said. “My mom wanted me to get some good work experience. Also, I needed something to do during the summer, and I thought I could help people along the way.”
Lauren Lumetta, a sophomore at Urbana’s Uni High, like Radek volunteered for the first time last summer. She was a student escort discharging patients by wheelchair to the main, and Heart and Vascular Institute (HVI) entrances.
“The human connection is an important part of growth and development,” Lumetta said. “Everyone I met at Carle was unique and kind to me – from the patients to the employees.”
Lumetta’s mom, Jennie Hsu-Lumetta, MD, is a physician at Champaign on Curtis, and one day, she might follow in her mom’s footsteps.
“At this point, I would like to apply to Berkeley for pre-med and continue to pursue art on the side,” Lumetta said.
Henry Moore, a junior at Centennial High School, has been a volunteer for the last two summers.
“I was cleaning examination rooms, restocking shelves and medicine cabinets, assembling surgical information packets, assisting the nurses with various tasks or working the phones,” Moore said.
He chose to volunteer once a week for three hours and believes it’s a great way to give back to the community.
“When I was younger, someone told me volunteering makes you feel good on the inside, and that has always stuck with me,” Moore said. “It builds character and discipline, and you are always happy with yourself at the end of the day.”