By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class James Stenberg
Naval Hospital Pensacola
NAVAL HOSPITAL PENSACOLA, Fla., Aug. 14, 2013 – The American Red Cross and Naval Hospital Pensacola work together each summer to support the Red Cross-sponsored Summer Teen Volunteer Program, which enables teens to volunteer at the hospital.
“We have a joint venture with the Red Cross for the teen program and every year we do what is called the Red Cross Teen Summer Volunteer Program,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edward Brinston, the hospital’s Summer Teen Volunteer Program coordinator. “The goal is to allow [teens] to come to our facility or our outlying clinics and volunteer to get the exposure of how we operate as a medical treatment facility. What I like about it is that the [teens] are able to rotate around to different departments depending on what their interests are.”
The program gives the teens a chance to work at various sections in the hospital. Along with the experiences they get from working in the medical field, their volunteer time counts as community service hours towards certain graduation and scholarship requirements.
“Part of our mission is to support the services of the armed forces,” said LaDonna Spivey, volunteer coordinator for the Northwest Florida Red Cross Chapter. “This teen volunteer program helps them get the best of both worlds. As they support the hospital and get volunteer hours they might need for [graduation] or for scholarships, they also get to explore a potential future career.”
Some of the volunteers used the opportunity to explore a possible career in medicine.
“I’m really interested in going into the medical field, so that was a big draw for me,” said Hannah Branstetter, a teen volunteer. “I have learned a lot and really like the people here in radiology. I learned how to set up X-rays, I.V.s and lots of other things, and it all helps if you want to go on and do things in the medical field.”
“I volunteered to get my community service hours and for [planning] my future,” said Latiya Bailey, another teen volunteer. “I was thinking about wanting to be a pediatrician or dental hygienist and while I was volunteering here I worked in dental and pediatrics.”
While some of the volunteers had little or no previous knowledge of Navy medicine, several of the volunteers had in-depth knowledge prior to arriving to the hospital through their parents who work at the hospital.
“I was happy that she had the opportunity to volunteer this year,” Bailey’s mother, Ananda Lemon, leading petty officer, Directorate Branch Health Clinics, said when asked about her daughter’s volunteer experience at the hospital.
“She was able to complete her community service hours in a relatively short amount of time,” Lemon said of her daughter. “She passed the mark she needed for graduation, but she was interested in pediatrics and dental. I think getting the opportunity to see a little bit of both helped her focus on what she really wants to do in the future.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for teens,” she continued, “they can get an idea of what reality is all about as far as the work force, and it gives them a different mindset on different types of careers they could possibly go into. Anybody that has the opportunity to take advantage of the program should do it.”