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URMC / Strong Memorial Hospital / Friends of Strong / The Best of Friends Blog / Friends of Strong Welcomes Record Number of High School Students to the URMC Family

Friends of Strong Welcomes Record Number of High School Students to the URMC Family

Six of this year's volunteers pose in Lauren's Garden at Golisano Children's Hospital.

Thanks to unprecedented support from 31 departments and units across Strong Memorial Hospital, Friends of Strong (FOS) this week welcomes the largest cohort for its high school volunteer program yet. Ages 14-18, 311 ambitious young students—eager to help others and gain important life skills—will spend the next eight weeks serving in a total of 327 different positions throughout the hospital and at offsite locations.

“This is the first year we’ve been able to provide a position for every student who applied,” said Joyce Stadtmiller, volunteer program manager. Eight students were even able to pick up a second volunteer role.”

“That’s never happened, and it’s all because of the remarkable efforts and participation of the departments and units who answered the call and volunteered to create positions and welcome these hard-working students into their teams this summer,” adds Sandy Arbasak, director of Friends of Strong.

Driven To Succeed

This is the 29th year FOS has hosted summer volunteers who deliver flowers, help at the Information Desk, assist in ambulatory clinic waiting rooms, and much more. Throughout the hospital—and at some off-site clinics—students from more than 50 area school districts will each spend a minimum of 30 hours supporting our Patient- and Family-Centered Care (PFCC) initiatives.

“Our youngest volunteers contribute greatly in helping us provide a more comfortable healing experience for our patients and their families,” Arbasak says. “Helping to care for those who aren’t feeling their best is an admirable way for a young person to spend their summer break—it’s a pretty compassionate and selfless act for a high school student!”

They’re Making A Difference this Summer

A familial trend has emerged among this summer’s high school volunteers. Fairport triplets, Natalie, Julea and Mairin Farchione, 16, are returning for their second year enhancing the patient experience at Strong, Golisano Children’s Hospital and Wilmot Cancer Center. 

Triplets, Natalie, Julea and Mairin Farchione pose on their first day of volunteering for summer 2019.Natalie, whose interests include field hockey and spending time with family and friends, also enjoys helping others, meeting new people and seeing patients and families smile. “Volunteering shows how we can all help others,” she says. “I just hope I can make someone’s day a little bit better by helping them find their destination.” This summer, she’s providing that sense of direction from her volunteer post at the Main Lobby information desk, assisting Ambassador Services.

Her sister, Julea, will be volunteering as a hospitality advocate at Wilmot Cancer Center, where she hopes to provide comfort to those who are enduring tough situations. Inspired by family, she has big aspirations for the future. “I like volunteering at Strong because it gives me the ability to explore the different options a medical community offers,” she says. “It allows me to experience various opportunities that I would normally not be exposed to.”

When she’s not volunteering or studying to become a scientist, Julea likes to read, hang out with friends, walk her dogs, and generally live an active lifestyle.

Their sister Mairin, who is volunteering as a craft ambassador in radiation oncology at Golisano Children’s Hospital, enjoys many of the same interests, and looks forward to helping kids and their families feel more comfortable during their visits. “I really liked my experience helping other people at the hospital last summer, and am excited to try helping in another area this year,” she says.

Grace Staub volunteering at the Strong Memorial Hospital Gift Shop.The Farchiones aren’t the only sisters to make a summer of volunteering to help comfort our patients. Grace Staub, 17, returns for her second year in the Summer High School Volunteer program, joined this year by her sister Emma, 16, both from Greece.

Grace notes her varied experiences last year among the reasons she enjoys volunteering at Strong and will this summer serve in the hospital’s gift shop helping families and friends find the perfect gifts for their loved ones and assist in delivering many gifts directly to patients. “I love reading, music, art, dancing, and seeking out opportunities that inspire me to work toward social and environmental change and inspire me to be a better person,” she says.

Emma Staub as she gets started on here first shift volunteering at Strong Memorial Hospital.Of a similar mindset, Emma is volunteering at Strong she says simply, “Because I like to help people.” She’ll be among other like-minded students serving with our Ambassador Services team. “I hope this experience helps inspire others to also find ways they can help in their communities.”

Michael Li volunteering at Golisano Children's Hospital.Pittsford’s Michael Li, 16, is returning for his second summer volunteering, spending part of his summer at Golisano Children's Hospital’s Sibling Clubhouse.

Inspired by a strong work ethic, he wanted to do something for the community with the free time summer provides. Volunteering is always a rewarding experience,” he says. “It’s a unique experience to better your community through helping others.”

The students volunteering in our summer high school program provide a little extra help during the summer,” says Karen Keating, volunteer program secretary at Friends of Strong. “Their friendly nature provides pleasant comfort to patients, and their families, who may be feeling the stress of seeing a loved one in the hospital.”

When you spot one of our student volunteers wearing a burgundy-colored Friends of Strong polo shirt this summer, please offer them a welcoming “hello” and thank them for volunteering with us.

For more information on volunteer opportunities at Strong Memorial Hospital, visit the Friends of Strong website, or call the Friends of Strong Office at (585) 275-2420.

Matt Ulakovic | 7/8/2019

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