Aug. 12, 2008 | While some teenagers may spend their summer break at the pool or working a part-time job, 10 central Arkansas teens used the time to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients.
The Summer Teen Volunteer Program at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the
“The volunteers provided a lot of creative help this summer,” said Carrie Wills, volunteer coordinator at the Cancer Institute. Wills has directed the program for three of its 12 years. “Everyone was so willing to help as they were needed. And they had fun at the same time,” she added.
Staff members in departments throughout the Cancer Institute requested assistance from the volunteers for office tasks such as filing and running errands. They also helped by making coffee in the waiting areas and working in the Cancer Institute Auxiliary Gift Shop.
One morning was spent at the UAMS Family Home, where volunteers baked cookies and filled bags with toiletry items for patients. The UAMS Family Home is a comfortable and affordable nonprofit facility that provides temporary housing for cancer patients and parents of infants in the UAMS neonatal intensive care unit.
Most of the volunteers, such as Seemaab Ali, found out about the program through staff members at the Cancer Institute. Ali’s mother is a former employee and his brother participated in the program for two summers.
He, along with fellow volunteers Lillian Tong and Aaron Yin, entertained patients and family members in the Cancer Institute’s Dixon Waiting Room following their end-of-summer party July 30. Ali played the guitar and sang with Tong, while Yin played the violin. Fellow volunteer Beth McGowan followed their performance with two Irish dances.
“It makes you feel really good to help the patients,” Tong said.
Most of the volunteers donated from eight to 10 hours per week. Brittany Bowden clocked in the most hours of the summer with 45.