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URMC / Strong Memorial Hospital / Friends of Strong / The Best of Friends Blog / July 2022 / Getting Back to the Future: FOS Welcomes High School Volunteers Following Hiatus

Getting Back to the Future: FOS Welcomes High School Volunteers Following Hiatus

three portraits of featured summer high school volunteers appear as a collage on blue background.The popular summer program is the most recent example of a volunteer program on the rise, shares Sandy Arbasak, director of Friends of Strong (FOS). “Thanks to the support we’ve received from departments and units across the hospital, we’re excited to have more than 80 intelligent and motivated high school students volunteering at the hospital and several of our offsite locations this summer!”

Due to ongoing pandemic-related challenges, FOS was only able to offer a condensed version of the high school volunteer program with a limited number of openings this year. But there’s a strong sense of optimism that just as the college and adult programs have steadily grown over the past two years, the high school program will also continue to grow each summer.

This is the 30th year FOS has hosted summer volunteers. Each of them, age 14-18, will spend the next eight weeks and a minimum of 30 hours supporting Patient- and Family-Centered Care (PFCC) initiatives in their respective areas of service—delivering flowers and gifts to patients, helping at the Main Lobby Information Desk, assisting in ambulatory clinic waiting rooms, and much more.

“It’s good to get back to having these ambitious young students join us for the summer and will be a joy to see them thrive in their chosen volunteer assignments,” says Kathy Parrinello, Chief Operating Officer of Strong Memorial Hospital. “It’s great for our patients today as well as a great way to introduce these students to meaningful and rewarding careers in health care tomorrow.”

“Our youngest volunteers contribute significantly in helping us provide a more comfortable healing experience for our patients and their families,” adds Volunteer Program Manager Karen Keating. “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, especially given the myriad of opportunities available to them.”

Motivated Toward Success

We got the chance to meet with several of this summer’s high school volunteers as they worked to complete their onboarding and training in preparation for their chosen roles. Here’s a peek at what motivates them toward success . . . and possible future careers in health care:

summer high school volunteer Marin MedinaFifteen-year-old Marin Medina of Fairport is volunteering in the hospital Gift Shop this summer and looks most forward to helping patients and their families find the perfect gift or item when they’re in need. “A friendly face makes the hospital experience more welcoming,” she says. “Strong hospital is a safe, welcoming environment with friendly people, and I hope to gain experience being a part of such a caring place, and providing a service for people when they need it most.”

“I love that my daughter has an opportunity to come to the same place as me, and experience a new level of care and understanding of the world around her,” adds Mom Terri Medina. “Strong is a terrific place and I know she’s in great company here.”

In her free time, Marin enjoys volunteering, listening to and playing music, drawing, and creating various kinds of art. This summer she’s also participating in Girls Rock! Rochester, a non-profit rock camp which fosters music creation and performance for girls and LGBTQ+ youth. Eventually, after high school, she plans to study cosmetology or possibly forensics.


summer high school volunteer Dasia SmithFollowing her dreams to become a Physician Assistant, 17-year-old Dasia Smith of Rush-Henrietta wants to volunteer at Strong partly because she is inspired by the happiness she sees in others who are doing the same work she strives toward. “It’s one of my passions to help people in need and volunteering at Strong is a great way to accomplish that while gaining real-world experience,” she says. “By volunteering, we’re also showing that we want to be here and that we care. We are taking the time out of our lives to help someone else, and by putting out those good vibrations to patients and families, we can really have a positive impact.”

While Dasia would love to one day work in the Emergency Department, she will be volunteering in GI/Endoscopy at the Ambulatory Care Center, which she picked because it will be something completely new and unfamiliar to learn about.

Outside of volunteering, this summer she plans to continue working and spending lots of time with friends and family—especially her mom. “I feel so proud of Dasia for making time to help people and brighten their day,” says Mom Lisa Smith. “She’s a compassionate person who has always had an interest in the medical field.”


summer high school volunteer Joshua BennigsohnSixteen-year-old Joshua Bennigsohn of Churchville Chili will also be volunteering in the Ambulatory Care Center’s GI/Endoscopy clinic. He looks forward to the experience he’ll gain by volunteering in the hospital setting and helping to give an extra hand to the team when needed, along with patients in need of any assistance.

“In the future, I would love to work in the medical field, with kids or possibly in emergency medicine,” he explains. “All the people who work in healthcare, the way that everyone works together as a team to help people in hardship is really inspiring to me—especially during a global pandemic! The medical professionals that stayed to help even though it could have cost them their lives are most inspiring to me.”

During his free time, Joshua enjoys camping, singing, musical theatre and spending time with friends and family.

“We are so proud of Josh for taking time this summer to step up and help at Strong,” adds Mom Susan Bennigsohn. “We really hope that he will learn a lot by volunteering, and more importantly we know he will prove to be a huge help to the team and patients he will be working with.”


When you spot one of our student volunteers wearing a burgundy-colored Friends of Strong t-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 Volunteering webpage, or call the Friends of Strong Office at (585) 275-2420.

Matt Ulakovic | 7/11/2022

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