Crossroads Hospice seeking teen volunteers from Shawnee
Today's teens have a lot of their schedule between school, sports and other activities, but one local organization wants teens and their families to how just 45 minutes of volunteering can change their lives and the lives of others.
"Teens these days have such busy schedules but if they can just find 45 minutes per month, it makes a really big difference," says Veronica Evans, volunteer coordinator at Crossroads Hospice.
Teen volunteers at the Lenexa hospice create "life journals" for patients, which are books about the patient, documenting the person's life and interests, bound in hardback and are given as a gift to family and friends. Volunteers also are involved in the "Gift of a Day" in which patients are asked what they would do if they had one perfect day, then Crossroads Hospice makes it happen, similar to the Make a Wish Foundation. Volunteers, Evans said, can learn photography and writing skills, some nursing or care taking skills, but mostly learn social skills in the process and many times only need to volunteer 45 minutes per month.
"If anyone has a talent, we will find a place for it here," Evans said. "It's definitely a life changing experience, you get laughs and you get tears."
Evans said teens, after taking a four-hour training course, are able to visit patients who have requested companions. Evans said supervisors go to each visit with volunteers until the volunteer is comfortable to visit alone.
Even if it's just 45 minutes, Evans said the patients enjoy being able to tell their stories to young, fresh ears, and the volunteers learn to appreciate those stories.
"It's vice versa, they're really giving to each other," Evans said. "It teaches younger volunteers how to learn to socialize and how to listen."
Evans said she has seen the effects of volunteering at hospice care even with teens who don't decide to volunteer. She said that she was called once by a parent of a teen after giving a presentation at a local school to try to recruit new volunteers. Evans said the mother called to say that her daughter gave her a hug that day and said "Thank you," after hearing Evans' presentation.
"You really learn to appreciate those around you," Evans said.
Evans said she usually has about 10 teen volunteers per year. While certain schools require community service hours, Evans said volunteerism is a great resume booster and an opportunity to learn new skills
Volunteers for Crossroads Hospice must be at least 16 and must pass a tuberculosis test and a background check. Volunteers are not asked to perform nursing duties or do any lifting. Although, Evans said she has had volunteers that go into nursing of medical careers because of their time volunteering at hospice. Two of last year's volunteers were from Shawnee, Evans said, and she is hoping to get more Shawnee teens involved in the program.
"The life journals and the experience is a wonderful gift that the patients and their families cherish," Evans said.
Teens and parents interested in the program can contact Crossroads Hospice and Evans at 913-850-7500 or can visit www.crossroadshospice.com