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Lumberton, NC–Junior volunteers are a welcome sign of summer at Southeastern Health. The Junior Volunteer Program accepts students ages 14 to 18 to serve their community by offering a helping hand at the hospital and across the SeHealth system. Students, in turn, gain valuable experience that will help them on their resumes and college applications. This year’s program runs from July 8 to Aug. 1.

In a new addition to the program, students who have volunteered for a least two summers at SeHealth will also be eligible to apply for one of two $500 scholarships in the spring of 2020. Applications will be available to junior volunteers who have served at least two summers at SeHealth in early 2020.

“We’re really excited about being able to do this in collaboration with the Southeastern Health Foundation,” said Volunteer Supervisor Janna Osman. “We are in the early stages of establishing requirements for the scholarships, and they must enter college by the fall of 2020.”

Manager of Customer Relations Joshua Jackson said he hopes the scholarship also entices more students to not just apply in the future, but return for more summers as long as they are eligible.

“It’s a really good opportunity,” Jackson said.

There are 47 junior volunteers this year, 23 of which are returning from previous summers. To be a junior volunteer, students must also have a minimum 3.0 GPA. After applying to be a volunteer, the students also have to go through an interview before they are accepted and attend orientation before they start. The number of available spots is determined by needs that exist in different areas of SeHealth.

Originally called “candy stripers” in the 1970s, when teens could volunteer through the nursing program, the Junior Volunteer Program has been a part of the hospital culture for decades. Junior volunteers also don’t wear the distinctive candy-cane striped uniform from long ago, but this year they will have matching embroidered polo shirts to look more uniform and professional. The funds for the shirts came from a joint fundraiser held by the SeHealth Foundation and the adult volunteer program.

“Students in the program are not involved in the clinical aspects of care, however, they may volunteer in clinical and non-clinical areas where they can lend a helping hand to make a big difference to patients, guests, visitors and staff,” said Director of Guest Services Alisia Oxendine. “Our Junior Volunteer Program is a rewarding program designed to cultivate the next generation of healthcare workers to experience first-hand the diverse career options available in the medical field and an opportunity for them to serve in a rich and rewarding vocation.”

Elizabeth Eddings, 17, is one of the students who is back for a second summer this year. She first applied because she knew the volunteer position would look good on her college application, and because she wanted to meet new people.

“I liked getting to know so many people,” said Eddings, who is from Rowland. “I was so shy, and then I came here and I got to know people and I was communicating with them, and I just loved it. I’m looking forward to helping staff, patients and visitors again this year.”

Junior volunteers also get an opportunity to attend Lunch and Learn sessions with different professionals who work for SeHealth.

“We started the sessions last summer,” Osman said. “The purpose of the sessions is for the junior volunteers to gain insight into and knowledge about different medical careers. The lunch is provided free for the volunteers and I schedule the professionals from within the organization.”

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