Last year, "Spirit of Teens" - a mentoring program for high school and college students - was launched at Provena's ministries in the Kankakee area. The program provides internships and opportunities for young adults to assist in various departments throughout Provena St. Mary's Hospital and Provena Life Connections, which includes Provena Adult Day Center, Provena Fortin Villa Learning Center, Provena Heritage Village, Provena Heritage Lodge, and Provena Our Lady of Victory. Story continues after video.
"Spirit of Teens is a wonderful way to develop leadership skills and to earn community service hours," explains Ronda Bond, director of Volunteer Services at Provena St. Mary's Hospital. "The combined efforts of our teens and their professional mentors demonstrate Provena's dedication to our community."
Deborah Stampanato, administrative director at Provena Fortin Villa Learning Center (daycare for children age six weeks to 12 years), has mentored several volunteers. "This program (Spirit of Teens) provides students with the unique opportunity to interact and connect with professionals while they are learning job-related skills that will enhance career choices."
Megan Selvey, a member of Spirit of Teens, echoed Stampanato's observation. "I will definitely take the skills that I have learned and use them in my future opportunities." Selvey interned in the Provena Fortin Villa Learning Center.
Depending on their interests, efforts are made to place students in the areas that align with their career goals - from obstetrics to marketing to pediatrics. For example, Kasi Berry plans to become an OB nurse and interned in the Family Birthing Center at Provena St. Mary's Hospital. She said, "It was a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn what my future job as an OB nurse will be like."
One of the many success stories from the program occurred at Provena Our Lady of Victory. Robin Gifford, R.N., W.C.C., N.H.A., administrator, explains. "One of our CNAs (certified nursing assistant) mentored a young student who was studying to become a CNA. After she completed her internship, we offered her a full-time position, which she accepted. Now, we're encouraging her to go back to school to become a nurse. It has been a wonderful experience for everyone."
Debbie Caise, R.N., B.S.N., patient care manager for Outpatient Surgery/Post-Anesthesia Recovery/Special Procedures Center at Provena St. Mary's Hospital, welcomes the young volunteers to her departments. "It is very refreshing to see our world through their eyes. It brings a smile to my face and makes me remember when I was just like them, and doing the least little thing meant so much - like holding a patient's hand or checking a patient's blood pressure."
Nicole Rzyski interned in Outpatient Surgery and said, "I learned a lot that I didn't realize about how Outpatient Surgery and post-op work."
Rachel Fritz agrees. "My internship in the Surgical Recovery Room gave me a lot of experience. All of the nurses were great teachers and mentors."
In addition to hands-on experience, Ashlee Demack's efforts in Outpatient Surgery helped define the direction of her career. "Interning in this unit helped me decide to become a surgical nurse. It was a life-changing experience."
There are many volunteer opportunities beyond the hospital. Kimberly Mead, social events coordinator/volunteer coordinator at Provena Heritage Village, praised the benefits of interaction between the teens and senior residents. "They enjoy getting to know each other. I've heard teen volunteers ask the seniors about 'the good ol' days' and about their hobbies 'back then.' Likewise, I've heard our senior residents ask the teens about their interests and plans for the future. The friendships that have grown between the two generations are priceless."
Rebecca Barney, R.N., BS, GC, administrator, Provena Adult Day Center (care for adults during daytime hours), compliments the joy that the Spirit of Teens volunteers bring to the clients of her ministry as well. "It's great to see the teens enjoy the companionship of our (senior) clients and vice versa. The two generations help each other learn new things."
Alyssa Brack completed her internship at the Provena Adult Day Center and reflected on her time there. "It was a fantastic experience. I already miss going (to Provena Adult Day Center) and helping out."
Bond concludes, "The students who participate in Spirit of Teens are the future of healthcare in our community. It's wonderful to see how much they learn and grow during the time that they are with us."
To learn more about the Provena Kankakee Regional Spirit of Teens program, call Volunteer Services at Provena St. Mary's Hospital at (815) 937-2479, or go to www.provena.org/stmarys. Join Provena St. Mary's Hospital on Facebook at www.facebook.com/provenastmarys.