Teen Hospice Volunteers Make a Difference
by Sandi Fahy
Photo by SANDI FAHY
PINELLAS COUNTY - There are 200 teens volunteering their services for the north county branch of Suncoast Hospice. One group whose aim is to make the lives of Hospice patients a little brighter is called "Party Pals". Sharon Lo, Bansi Savla, Caitlin Beeghly, Rohan Shah and Jonathan Im are among those who share that title. One day the week before school resumed, the five high school students were on hand for the birthday parties of two Hospice patients, ages 95 and 105. The teens arrived with crowns, flowers, balloons and cards for the honorees. The flowers and balloons were donated by Publix. The crowns and cards were made by the Party Pals, who have also baked cupcakes for such occasions.
There are also Hospice "cheer teams", who visit patients in nursing homes and hospitals. Other teens assist with office duties or help out in the agency's resale shops. Many take part in special events hosted by Hospice or lend their assistance at outside events such as the Senior Prom. Making scrapbooks for families of patients and/or videotaping patients' life stories are among the other projects taken on by the young volunteers.
Students can become volunteers at age 14. They are considered members of the teen volunteer corps until they graduate from high school. All receive four hours of Hospice training and orientation. Those who have contact with patients undergo extra training--12 hours of patient family support training, which is the same training adult volunteers receive.
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