Youth give free time to health region

Jodi Schellenberg
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Spending time with the elderly isn’t on most youth’s agenda, but some have found it a most rewarding experience.

Youth volunteers from the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region were honoured on Thursday during a ceremony at the Herb Bassett Home.

“It is a wonderful and very special occasion for all of us because we have the privilege of being able to celebrate the contributions our youth volunteers give here at the Victoria Hospital and Herb Bassett (and) our rural community as well,” said Sonya Jahn, director of Volunteer Services for PAPHR.

“Today is a very special day,” she added. “I have mixed feelings, I have to say, because we are both excited to be able to celebrate the contributions of our youth volunteers but sad because the year has come to an end and it seems like yesterday when the youth volunteers were going through orientation.”

Maddison Hujber, 18, has been volunteering with the health region for two years.

“We volunteer all over the hospital,” she said. “It is usually on the different floors and the Herb Bassett Home but I’ve also volunteered during the summer where I take a resident of the Herb Bassett Home to the fair or (something).”

Although many hear about volunteer opportunities through advertising, Hujber said she didn’t -- instead she phoned the hospital asking about volunteering.

“I really like helping people and making someone’s day brighter because nurses and doctors, as awesome as they are, don’t always have the time themselves to take the time and personally get to know their patients, so volunteers come in and help people on a personal level, maybe make a friend, and that is a true way to heal someone is when they are happy,” she said.

Volunteering is an important and essential part of a community, Hujber said. Without volunteers, patients and residents would have someone bringing them ice water, playing games, helping them eat or just visiting with them.

She explained it also takes a lot of pressure off the doctors and nurses because without volunteers they would have to do these odd jobs themselves, taking away from the level of service they could offer.

Although many youth find spending time with the elderly boring, Hujber enjoys her time at the Herb Bassett Home.

“I wanted to work with the elderly because I think we can learn a lot from them,” she said. “They have a lot of life experience and they are just really fun people to know and they don’t get out a lot. It is kind of fun to come out and make a new friend.”

Kain Liliberte, 16, has been volunteering for two years and hopes to again next year.

He started volunteering when he saw some people in need in Saskatoon.

“I saw some people needing help and they didn’t know when the nurses would come and help them,” Liliberte said.

After that, he decided to become a volunteer and help other in a hospital setting.

“(I) mostly help out older people with things they need help with and visiting them is very nice,” he said. “(I like) the smiles on their faces when I come in, get them water or clean up their room.”

Both Liliberte and Hujber have been influenced by their time volunteering with the health region.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after I graduated but after volunteering I know for sure that I want to dedicate my life to helping others in the health-care industry,” Hujber said.

Liliberte said he would like to become a registered nurse, something also influenced by his mother.

“My mom was a nurse before and that influenced me to be one,” he said. “She comes home tired but happy too and tells me how her day went.”

Those who work for the health region are proud of the contributions of the youth.

“Youth volunteers are very important members of our community,” said Jane Antoine, nursing unit manager for pediatrics at the Victoria Hospital. “Patients, residents and staff all look forward to the injection of energy and optimism you bring in our health region.”

Michelle Herbst Sutor, nursing unit manager the Herb Bassett Home, said that the youth volunteers have control of their reputation and dignity in their lives.

“I do notice the effect you have on people while you are here and the effects you have on the staff,” Herbst Sutor said. “I’m always very glad to see you because it is a relief that there are young people around, more people around because I know what you bring to the residents and how much it is appreciated.”

Not only were they thankful for the volunteers, Jahn also thanked the parents for the support they have shown their children.

“We are so incredibly proud of all our youth volunteers and so proud of you, because … you did a fine job of raising some fine, upstanding citizens that are going to do great things in this world,” Jahn said. “It gives me goose bumps to think of all the wonderful things that they have been doing as youth volunteers here at the Victoria Hospital and Herb Bassett Home.”

Organizations: Victoria Hospital, Volunteer Services for PAPHR

Geographic location: Saskatoon

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