Volunteen Program provides learning experiences for teenagers and patients

Photography provided by Ann-Margaret Hedges (BMC)

Thanks to the efforts of a special group of volunteers, St. Jude patients had a summer filled with creative hands-on activities. A safari, luau and circus were just a few of the fun activities provided to the children through the Volunteen Program. Through the program, teenagers, ages 16 to 18, donate their time to the hospital twice a week—one day dedicated to designing a themed event with arts-and-crafts activities and the next day spent hosting the event for patients and their siblings.

"It is extremely rewarding to watch these teens grow and learn as they work together for the patients and siblings,” says Randa Spears, Volunteer Coordinator for St. Jude. “And it is equally delightful and touching to see how the patients and siblings respond to them.”

In addition to working with children, the teens explore St. Jude and its mission through tours and guest speakers, are introduced to possible career paths and engage in activities that promote leadership and team-building skills.

The program is divided into two, five-week sessions, one beginning in May and the other in July. Typically more than 75 teens apply each summer, and each teen must complete an essay along with an application. After a committee review, the top 30 candidates are invited to join the Volunteen Program.