The Friends of Strong, an organization devoted to improving and assisting Strong Memorial Hospital, will begin accepting applications for its summer volunteer program on May 1. Local area high school students can apply to volunteer for the program, which runs for nine weeks between June 28 and August 28. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work in several different areas of the hospital. Previously, students have worked in the gift shop, the thrift shop and in clerical and office positions. Opportunities also exist working with patients. Pediatrics, sports medicine, and the occupational therapy departments all have positions available. “There are a variety of jobs open to students,” Jane Walsh, a volunteer program administrator at Friends of Strong, said. Friends of Strong has been placing local high school students in volunteer positions at the hospital for twenty years. The program has been expanding greatly recently. Increased community service requirements in schools and an increased interest in the medical field by today’s youth have caused record-breaking amounts of applicants. Last year 258 students volunteered for the nine-week program. “Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger,” Walsh said. The program gives first hand experience to those who are contemplating a career in medicine. “It teaches responsibility, compassion and sensitivity to the needs of others,” Walsh said. The Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital aids the hospital in its operations. The organization originated in 1926 but was not incorporated into Strong in its current form until 1975. The organization “advances the mission of Strong Memorial Hospital by providing services to patients, families and visitors, promoting the hospital in the community, and raising money to support patient care needs,” says their mission statement. “People come to [us] for anything and everything,” Walsh said. The organization provides supplemental funding for various departments within the hospital. The money raised by Friends is partially used to help buy equipment for departments whose requested budgets exceed the allocated amount. Last year almost $660,000 was given to different departments. Almost 1,000 volunteers work with the organization throughout the year. These volunteers save the hospital millions of dollars each year. “We’re saving the hospital money, while providing excellent services,” Walsh said. Applications for the volunteering positions will be accepted starting May 1. Placement is given on a first come first serve basis. “The hospital is an important center in the community,” Walsh said, stressing how important these volunteers are to the community. Pisarski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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