Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
Student Volunteer Program Gives Youth Valuable Experience
Aug. 10 was a sad day for Emily Bische. It was her last day as a student volunteer at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center (JCMVAMC).
The soon to be Junior at Henryetta High School volunteered four days a week for 10 weeks with Supply, Processing and Distribution and helped organize, stock and deliver supplies throughout the medical center.
Bische, who hopes to be a forensic entomologist after college, has taken part in JCMVAMC’s student volunteer program for three consecutive summers and has donated almost 1,000 hours to the medical center.
“My mom tried to talk me into volunteering when I was young and I was really wary of it,” said Bische, who is the daughter of JCMVAMC employees Lori and William Bische. “But once I got here, I met a lot of people who were very kind and generous and they took me in and taught me, and ever since I’ve been pretty much addicted.”
This summer, 35 students took part in the student volunteer program and donated 2,443 hours in Housekeeping, Food & Nutrition, Primary Care, Patient Transport, Radiology and the Emergency Department. To qualify for the program, students must be 14 – 18 years old.
Greg Sorenson, chief of Voluntary Service, started the program in 2004 and said the program exposes students to careers at VA and also gets them ready for the work place.
“They’re the future generation,” said Sorenson. “I talked to one gentleman and he’s going to college and I said ‘what are you going to be doing when you get out of college’ and he said he’s going to be a pharmacist and he hopes to work at a VA.’ I said ‘would you have done that before you started volunteering and he said no’ and it made that kind of an impression. So I think we’re planting seeds with the young ones.”
Sorenson said the program also exposes the students to the sacrifices of America’s Veterans.
"Just like our adult volunteers, this is a valuable group to our medical center and I thank each service who supported a student this year," said Brian Hawkins, JCMVAMC Director. "I know they gained valuable knowledge from you and learned more about the Veterans we serve."
JCMVAMC also has 352 adult volunteers who volunteer at the main medical center and outpatient clinics in Hartshorne, Tulsa and Vinita.