Ingrid Islas watched as her sister, Indira, volunteered with the Medical Center Auxiliary at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center throughout high school. After hearing her sister come home and talk about how much she loved it and how much of a difference she felt she was making at the hospital, Ingrid Islas knew she had to do the same.
After beginning the teen volunteer program in the summer of 2016, following her sophomore year at Gainesville High School, Ingrid Islas fell in love with it, too. She loved it so much she volunteered to work when she didn’t have to.
For all of her hard work and passion, Islas was recognized with the Andrew J. Dockery Teen Volunteer of the Year award.
“It meant a lot, of course, to get the award,” said Islas, who graduated from Gainesville this year. “My sister was a volunteer, so I tried to follow in her footsteps, but I didn’t think that I was good enough to follow in her footsteps. I’m glad they thought of me like that and thought I was good enough to get something like that.”
Volunteers with the Medical Center Auxiliary complete some tasks that may seem small, but add up in the end. They are charged with stocking linen closets, filling ice and water for patients and assisting in the mailroom. They may not seem like glamorous tasks, but for Islas, she knew they meant something.
“Even though we did little things around the hospital, the things we did were greatly appreciated by the staff,” Islas said. “I liked that we could do something to help the ones (who) help other people heal and keep the hospital running.”
The program only requires a summertime commitment with students agreeing to volunteering for 30 hours. Islas didn’t stop there, though. During her time as a volunteer during the past two years, she accumulated 338 hours. It was the most of any volunteer this year.
Choosing the volunteer of the year is a difficult task. It’s chosen after examining the number of hours each teen has volunteered, the length of time he or she has volunteered, as well as the volunteer’s attitude and willingness to serve.
Islas excelled in each areas and wouldn’t just do them during summer.
Louise Robison, volunteer coordinator with volunteer services in the Northeast Georgia Health System, said Islas stopped by when she had free time to see if anything needed to be done. Oftentimes, she would be there when volunteers were on vacation or the teen program was not in session.
“There’s a group of four or five students, and Ingrid was a part of this group, who come on Christmas Day and give out books to children in the pediatric area, take cookies or whatever we have,” Robison said. “They will have worked with some school groups and have cards to give out, and we will have carnations for them to give out as well. They just give up their time on Christmas Day to do this.”
With the volunteer spirit thriving within her, Islas is eyeing a career in the medical field. She plans to attend Trinity Washington College in Washington, D.C., to pursue a nursing degree.
Robison said she thinks Islas will do well in the profession because she is “kind and compassionate.”
Islas said volunteering with the Medical Center Auxiliary helped her see exactly what it was like inside the hospital. Even though Robison said volunteering can sometimes deter students from the medical field, it does the opposite for others.
“Volunteering grew my love for this,” Islas said. “I saw teamwork. I saw the responsibility they have. And I saw how they really care about the patients and want to help them. I saw their love for their career by how hard they worked and that’s what I want.”