JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
The Brooke Army Medical Center Youth Volunteer Program kept 100 volunteers busy this summer, resulting in this year being the largest group so far.
Each year ,BAMC partners with the American Red Cross for this unique program, which spread volunteer opportunities across 18 departments in BAMC including the outlying clinics.
Nicole Romero, a volunteer in biomedical engineering, said she really enjoyed her time at here.
"I got to experience all the different workplaces by walking around and delivering all different types of equipment," Romero said, noting that through her experience as a volunteer she now understands the effect one department has on the whole hospital.
"This has actually got me more interested in more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs) or more engineering-based career opportunities," Romero said.
Not only did the volunteers assist their departments in day-to-day tasks, ranging from filing patient information to restocking surgical supplies, they developed a better understanding of the complex efforts it takes to keep a military hospital running.
Some volunteers said not only were they appreciative for the volunteer opportunity, but the experience opened their eyes to a broader range of career opportunities.
Caitlyn Molina worked in logistics restocking supplies for operating rooms around the hospital.
"I would say yes, (this program) has inspired me, career-wise," she said. "I mean, I have wanted to do something in the medical field but once you're in it it's a very different experience."
The volunteer experience has exposed Molina to more than just career thoughts.
"The thing that has probably inspired me most is just seeing what other people have done to be able to help others, nothing is really too small when it comes down to a hospital," Molina said.
Several volunteers expressed that volunteering at BAMC is an enjoyable experience.
"My favorite part of being a volunteer is how close everyone is and it's always nice that no one takes anything too seriously, so we can always have fun," Molina said.
Haley Szczepankiewicz, a volunteer for orthopedics agrees. "It's been very fun, very rewarding, and I've learned a lot," she said.
The program which began June 15, finished Aug. 7 with an awards ceremony for the youth volunteers. BAMC Commander Brig. Gen. George Appenzeller and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Oates handed out certificates to each volunteer as an acknowledgement of their hard work.
The general thanked the students, parents and BAMC staff for their dedication to the Youth Volunteer Program.
"We are very proud of what you did," Appenzeller said. "You did meaningful work taking care of patients, taking care of staff and our organization."