A 15-year-old volunteer once visited a Crouse Hospital patient who seemed less than eager to chat. The volunteer stuck with it, following the advice of Student Volunteer Program Coordinator Dick Scott: slow down, smile and introduce yourself.
When the volunteer mentioned she sang with the Syracuse Children’s Chorus, the patient perked up. She’d always wanted to hear the group perform, but poor health kept her away. The volunteer later burned a CD of the chorus singing and presented it to the patient.
“I have plenty of anecdotes like that,” says Scott. “Magic happens. It makes their summer.”
The former Syracuse City School District teacher, who also coached varsity basketball at Fowler High School for many years, has coordinated Crouse’s Student Volunteer Program since 2001. The program has grown considerably under Scott’s leadership, with about 125 high school students from throughout the region volunteering each summer. Students must commit to at least 50 hours over six weeks; they typically work two four-hour shifts a week during summer months.
Nancy Williams, EdD, MSN, RN, CPXP, director of Crouse’s Office of Patient Experience, calls Scott’s experience as an educator, coach and mentor “a winning combination” to work with young volunteers.
Scott sends out up to 350 applications before Christmas; applications are due March 1. The process includes a 30-minute interview and signed commitments from students and parents. Volunteers start with a one-day orientation, then it’s mostly on-the-job training.
“We believe it works best if they’re part of a team,” Scott says. “They learn and grow with it.”
Wearing the teal JV shirt makes the young volunteers feel part of the Crouse team. “There’s a sense of legacy,” Scott says. “I try to instill the sense that they’re part of something bigger.” Junior volunteers may leave with improved people skills, memorable experiences or career paths. Crouse also benefits, Scott says. “It’s investing in the future.”
Rewarding proof of this came to Scott recently through an email he received from a young woman who was nearing the completion of medical school. She wrote, “I’m unsure if you remember me, but my name is Alicia Rego and I participated in your College Volunteer Program during my time at Syracuse University from 2012-2016. I have you to thank for all the encouragement and opportunities during my college years.”
In addition to the Junior Volunteers, Scott also oversees CHOICES (Crouse Hospital Offers Innovative Career Explorations for Students), a high school program featuring presentations by medical professionals, and the College Volunteer Program.
Crouse News is reported by members of our Communications Team.