International Youth Day just passed, but let’s give another big shout-out to our Empath Health teen volunteers supporting our mission of care.
More than 365 high school teens volunteer throughout the Empath Health network. From Suncoast Hospice care and Resale Shops to Suncoast PACE senior care and honoring veterans, to fundraisers, office work and much more, these youth lead the way uplifting our community.
Meet Colleen Martin: Suncoast Hospice teen volunteer
Colleen Martin is going into her senior year in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Palm Harbor University High School. Her main love is chemistry. She participates in the National Honor Society, the Nu Alpha Beta Honor Society, singing and her church group.
“I love to sing. I am in my school’s chorus and I sing the National Anthem for organizations and celebrations,” she noted.
Martin joined our teen volunteer program as a freshman. As a little girl, she was personally touched by a family member’s Suncoast Hospice care and wished to give back.
She shared, “My grandmother was a hospice patient years ago and was cared for at the North Pinellas Care Center. I was about eight years old at the time, and I saw the staff and volunteers and what they did for her. Even that young I could get a sense that what they did was amazing. I wanted to be part of the organization. I wanted to volunteer with that Care Center to give back what they gave me.”
Spreading Cheer and Music
One favorite volunteer role she performs is going on Cheer Team visits. One particular patient made a special bond with the team.
“That’s my biggest experience with Suncoast Hospice. We had a patient at the facility that we visit. When we first visited her she felt that the only thing she missed and wanted was to hear classical music again. So the next visit we started playing classical music. Over time, music has become a great conversation piece with us,” Martin explained.
That patient gives them inspiration.
She added, “We got to know her more and she got to know us more. She is in her 90’s and she does not look it, does not act it and expresses to us that she does not feel it. Keeping a positive and an active mentality in life is her advice to us. It has actually helped me have a more positive outlook. She honestly is our favorite patient.”
Celebrating holidays and events is another volunteer activity Martin looks forward to.
“The caroling opportunities for patients during the Christmas season is something I like to do. I saw the opportunity for the Suncoast PACE prom in past years but was never able to do it. I was able to do it this year and it didn’t disappoint. That was really fun,” she noted.
Martin has learned and developed new comfort and skills through her volunteer service.
“When I first volunteered I was an awkward mess and painfully shy. I feel I’ve grown in hospice and gained more confidence. It has helped me become comfortable with new people and experiences. It has helped teach me to get outside my comfort zone to help make someone’s life more comfortable. I have more responsibilities at the Care Center, on the Cheer Team and especially on the Leadership Board being part of the planning of all these events. It has helped me be more mature,” Martin said.
She enjoys sharing her time and heart in hospice care.
“I love to do it. I care about the patients and families. A lot of patients that we visit have families and a good support system, and then there are some that don’t really get a lot of visitors. It’s really nice knowing that we are there bringing them a little positivity and happy energy to make their end of life just a little easier,” she expressed.
Most likely Martin will stick around Florida to continue her education and passion of science.
She shared, “After high school I want to major in chemistry and have a career in chemistry. I love the field and the subject and I want to spend my whole life doing that. I’m going to apply to the University of Florida, Florida State University and University of South Florida. I don’t really want to go out of the state. I am a Florida girl and I don’t think I can handle the cold.”
Calling More Teens!
Click here to learn more about the many volunteer opportunities available at Empath Health.