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Vidant Junior Volunteer program offers students skills, experience

By CHRISTOPHER RYAN OEHRLI

For the Daily News

A long-standing program is again giving high school students the opportunity to prepare for the workplace and help others while they do it.

As part of a program that goes back to the 1980s, Vidant Beaufort Hospital allows students in the area to assist patients, develop skills and potentially earn scholarship money. With 114 teen volunteers this summer, the contrast between the first year the hospital took them in—which saw four volunteers—is stark, said Pam Shadle, the hospital’s director of marketing.

To join the program students must have a B average in their classes, no disciplinary infractions and two teacher recommendations.

Once accepted, for the next nine weeks they do “a little bit of everything,” said Manager of Volunteer Services Jamie Tice, ranging from discharging patients to working the front desk.

“Volunteering just started as something to do for National Honors Society,” said Noah Roberson, a rising senior at Washington High School. “But I fell in love with it. I just love meeting new people and talking to them.”

DOSE OF SUNSHINE: Jackson Paul, Colby Case and Noah Roberson make the rounds with a ‘Sunshine Cart,’ delivering various goodies to hospital patients. All three are rising seniors at Washington High School. (Christopher Ryan Oehrli/Daily News)

A recent innovation at the hospital, ‘Sunshine Carts’ that go door-to-door in the afternoon toting candy, get-well cards and balloons, among other things, allow Roberson and other volunteers to interact with patients. Seeing who can sell the most candy from the cart has become a daily competition.

“It’s a good pick-me-up in the afternoon,” Tice said.

Rising Washington senior Jackson Paul is working his third summer at the hospital. He likes it so much that after college he may come back to work as a nurse, he said. His favorite part of the day is delivering newspapers.

“When you do that, you can see everyone first thing in the morning,” he said.

According to Trice, even for those planning to go into a different field like engineering, the work is valuable for learning and building on soft skills.

“We’ve got to be responsible in terms of growing our future workforce,” Shadle said. “There are great things in healthcare, right here in Beaufort County.”

Scholarships open up for students who have met 34 hours each summer for three summers.

Students come not just from Beaufort County but also from Pitt County and Martin County, allowing them, to “make friendships with people they never would have known otherwise,” Tice said.