Youth volunteer gains broadening experience

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Each year the American Red Cross hosts a group of teenagers from across the country wanting to volunteer or perform community service in various locations.

And this summer has been no exception, Ireland Army Community Hospital provided the opportunity for 44 such volunteers to participate in the American Red Cross’s Extreme Summer Youth Program.

“This program offers professionalism and provides on-the-job training for our youth,” said Yvonne May, hospital coordinator for the American Red Cross. “It is also a great way for the teens to get volunteer service or community service hours to place on their university and college applications.”

May explained that in today’s society high school grades or marks alone aren’t enough sometimes in order to be accepted in colleges.

“Volunteer service is important,” she said. “It is not enough to just have a high GPA to continue your education at the next level. You have to be very diverse and volunteering shows you are,” May said.

So it was no surprise to May when Nicolas Brown, 16, and one of the volunteers, was asked to be featured and recognized because of his hard work and stellar performance in the youth program. May has known Brown for two years, she said.

“Nicolas is one of the best youth volunteers that we have had in the program,” May said. “He is very responsible and respectful.”

Brown is an 11th grader at Hardaway High School in Columbus, Ga., and spends summers with his aunt, Maj. Shawn Smart, a contracting officer for 904th Contracting Battalion, at the Mission and Installation Contracting Command Center on Fort Knox.

Smart is the reason for Brown’s volunteer service at the hospital.

“My auntie has volunteer options available to me on post so I wanted to stay with her during the summer to get my volunteer hours for school,” Brown said. “I needed 90 hours, but since I have been here I’ve received somewhere between 150 to 160 hours.” Brown said he has so many extra hours because he likes the hospital and its staff.

“I wanted to volunteer here at Ireland because of the people and the atmosphere,” Brown said.

“It is lively and open, and if there is something I don’t understand I can just ask the question and not worry about any repercussions—even if I messed up on something.”

During the program Brown was assigned to the Same Day Surgery Department and worked on various tasks given to him.

“I’ve put together patient charts, written labels for patient charts and other jobs that require strict attention,” Brown said. “I’ve also changed linen sets on beds and much, much more,” he said.

Because of his work at Ireland, Brown gained an appreciation for Army medicine and the hospital employees.

“Every day I come here I find something different that I love about this place,” Brown said. “And that makes the experience of being here all the better,” he said.

Volunteering at Ireland also gave him other options to consider for a career.

“I’ve heard Georgia State University has a good Japanese and medical program,” Brown said. “Because I take Japanese as a foreign language, I would like to study abroad and learn the culture as well as study medicine,” he said. “But that’s just one of many options.”

The process for becoming a volunteer for the American Red Cross is simple, May said.

Teens interested must fill out an application and conduct an interview with parents present. A decision is made the American Red Cross coordinator at the time, May said. For more information about the program contact the American Red Cross on post.