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Volunteers bring comfort,
explore career options

 

By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor 

  The waiting room at a doctor’s office is never fun, particularly at the pediatrician’s. A sick, cranky little patient, possibly accompanied by a bored brother or sister or both, can be a parent’s worst headache.

Volunteers Maryann Perez and Josie Deason help patients with arts and crafts in the waiting room at Children’s Healthcare at Hudson Bridge Urgent Care in Stockbridge.                                   Photo by Melissa Robinson

  But at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Hudson Bridge Urgent Care in Stockbridge, friendly-faced volunteers help little ones pass the waiting room time through a volunteer program, that doubles as a service to patients and a type of career exploration for young volunteers.

  High school seniors and college students volunteer to do arts and crafts as well as read to waiting children. According to Laura Turner, Community Outreach Liaison for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, on the rare occasion where there isn’t a full waiting room, volunteers also perform administrative tasks and stock medical supplies.

  Maryann Perez, who recently graduated from Dutchtown High School, volunteers every Friday afternoon. She graduated with honors and was a dual-enrolled student at Southern Crescent Technical College.

  “I do arts and crafts and other activities with the children,” said Perez. “I like volunteering a lot, and it feels good to try and help the kids feel better, because when you’re at the doctors, you’re usually not feeling your best.”

  Perez said she wants to go into the medical field as a radiologist and plans to begin her college career at Southern Crescent Technical College.

  “I want to go into the medical field for sure, into radiology as a doctor,” said Perez.

  She said that working at the clinic has given her a great view into a career working in healthcare with children.

   “It definitely has given me a window into working with children,” said Perez. “I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do in radiology, but after working with kids here, I definitely want to do something in pediatric care.”

  Perez also volunteers her time at the Stockbridge Library with the summer reading program as well as at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta.

  Volunteer Josie Deason, who graduated from Strong Rock Christian School last month, began volunteering at the children’s clinic during her school’s mini-mester, which is a weeklong opportunity for students to choose a field of interest and volunteer in that field.

  “It’s like an internship and gives you a chance to try something you want to do for a living,” said Deason.

  She said she enjoys working with children and also participated in a mentorship program during the school year where she volunteered in her school’s library, reading to younger students and helping them choose and check out books.

  Deason said she will be attending the University of Georgia in the fall and plans to major in biology, and eventually wants to be a pediatrician or a dermatologist.

  “I just like helping people and making them feel more comfortable and I really think I want to work with kids,” she said.

  Turner said the program has been a great success for both Children’s Healthcare and the volunteers, offering much needed services for the non-profit children’s clinic and a great opportunity for career exploration for the volunteers. Throughout the various Children’s Healthcare system locations, volunteers logged 131,380 hours.

  “We’re a nonprofit and it certainly makes this experience a win-win. It helps the kids take their minds off being at the doctor and it also takes some pressure off mom and dad who might be a little stressed out,” said Turner.

  She said volunteers are needed every day and that the office is very flexible with scheduling. Volunteers must be 18 and have all of their required immunizations, and many of the volunteers at the Hudson Bridge location are college students, who work around their classes.

   “Volunteering here is a wonderful resume builder. I write recommendation letters for our volunteers when they need them, and actually one of our volunteers went on to work at Children’s after she graduated from college,” said Turner.

  For more information about volunteering, contact Turner at 404-201-0822 or laura.turner@choa.org.

 

 

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