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URMC / Strong Memorial Hospital / Friends of Strong / The Best of Friends Blog / July 2023 / Area High School Students Bring Vision and Inspiration to Summer Volunteer Program at Strong

Area High School Students Bring Vision and Inspiration to Summer Volunteer Program at Strong

Along with an exciting summer of fun and adventure, an ambitious and talented cohort of area high school students are also adding community service to the mix—volunteering throughout Strong Memorial Hospital with the Friends of Strong Summer High School Volunteer program, where they’ve each selected an area to help support staff and clinicians provide an exceptional health care experience for patients and families.

“We hope everyone in the hospital and Medical Center community will help us provide a welcoming and positively memorable experience for these future doctors, nurses, scientists and leaders as they explore the potential of following an educational path toward a career in health care and beyond,” says Friends of Strong Director, Sandy Arbasak.

While some of the high school volunteers you might meet this summer have a personal connection within the university, many more come to us from throughout the Rochester and Finger Lakes region simply because of the wonderful things they’ve heard about Strong Memorial Hospital or our robust volunteer program.

With the exception of a pandemic-era pause, Friends of Strong (FOS) has hosted summer volunteers each summer for the past 33 years. The highly sought-after program is especially popular among parents – some of whom also served in the program when they were in high school or college.

Over the course of eight weeks, each high schooler, age 14-18, will volunteer once a week adding up to a minimum of 30 hours supporting Patient- and Family-Centered Care (PFCC) initiatives in their chosen area of service.

“We pride ourselves on our ability to offer these young people a variety of options and levels with which they will be able to engage with patients, their families and providers in a friendly, inviting and low-pressure setting,” says Volunteer Program Manager Karen Keating. “They really get to experience what it’s like to work in a field that they’re thinking about pursuing.”

“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 kids volunteering at the hospital and several of our offsite locations this summer,” Sandy adds. “Our program really helps set them on track to shape the rest of their lives, no matter which volunteer role they’ve selected.”

As they’ve begun assisting patients and families in one of our many clinics, helping at the Main Lobby Information Desk, or assisting in one of this summer’s many other volunteer roles, several high school volunteers already stand out among their peers.

Eva Daniel

high school volunteer Eva DanielReturning to the program after serving in Pediatric Physical Therapy at Clinton Crossings last summer, Eva Daniel notices how even the smallest gestures can make a big difference in someone's life.

 “Volunteering with the hospital fills me with a sense of purpose and satisfaction that is hard to find anywhere else,” she shares. “At the end of the day, if I walk out strong knowing I helped someone that's all that matters. It's not about recognition or material gain, but the feeling of satisfaction knowing I made a difference for someone.”

This summer Eva is volunteering with Ambassador Services at Strong, where she strives to help guests find their way around the hospital while learning more about health care and helping people. Soon enough, she plans to study law with hopes to become an attorney specializing in family law.

“As a former volunteer of Strong, I think this is a wonderful program and an excellent learning experience for children,” says Eva’s dad, Naveen Daniel.

“I love seeing my daughter come home excited to tell me how she helped others,” adds Eva’s mom, Dimple Daniel. “It's incredible to see how much she enjoys this experience.”

Riley Whitely 

High School Volunteer Riley WhitelyAn aspiring pediatric oncologist who loves working with children, Riley Whitely is volunteering with Child Life in the Sibling Club House at Golisano Children’s Hospital this summer. She is especially excited about volunteering because of the way it brings people together and exposes us to new and unique situations that we may not otherwise experience.

“I chose the Friends of Strong program because I felt it was a good opportunity to experience working with a variety of people in the community and in the medical field, and because of the hospital’s wonderful reputation,” she says. “I hope to provide comfort and a happy face for the families that have children in the hospital.”

Oreste Pinzon

High School Volunteer Oreste PinzonWhile he remains undecided on a future career, Oreste Pinzon is interested attending the University of Rochester and volunteering with Friends of Strong, which was highly recommended by his five older siblings who also served in the program.

Oreste is volunteering with Ambassador Services at Strong, where he hopes to build upon his people-skills while helping patients and families find their way to appointments and visits. “It’s always a good thing to think of others and to help without expecting a reward,” he says.

Oreste’s parents are very excited and thankful that he can volunteer at Strong Hospital. “We know that Oreste will be inspired through working in the hospital setting,” they explain. “Friends at Strong is always so helpful and kind; they really make the volunteering experience wonderful!”

Sophia Roemer

High School Volunteer Sophia RoemerSophia Roemer loved her volunteer experience so much last year that she “just had to come back” this summer. Indeed, she loves helping others, which is one reason she chose to volunteer with Pediatric Physical Therapy.

Inspired by visions of a future career as an ED or ICU nurse, in addition to the many strong and independent women in her life, Sophia hopes to brighten patients’ days and make a difference for their healing journey through volunteering. “It shows that people care enough to take time out of their day or week to help out for a few hours,” she says.

“It is a great opportunity for Sophia to get exposure to the field of medicine in an environment of excellence and support,” adds Wendy Parisi, Sophia’s mom.

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 website, or call the Friends of Strong Office at (585) 275-2420.


Matt Ulakovic | 7/13/2023

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