NMCSD Thanks Volunteers
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chad A. Bascom and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea A. Radford NMCSD Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO – The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) Volunteer Program at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) has been serving patients and staff since 1982.
The ASYMCA runs approximately 40 volunteer programs a month including medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) family support programs, reading to pediatric patients, patient recreation, ward visitation leaders, game day in the wards, therapy dog programs and game night in the liberty center.
“There are a lot of people who benefit from volunteering,” said ASYMCA Volunteer Coordinator Erin C. Lester. “The volunteers themselves certainly benefit through the opportunity to give back, as well as the patients whether they are active duty here seeking treatment or others who are up in the wards.”
In 2009, a total of 197 volunteers took part with approximately 10 percent of them being active duty personnel.
“My chain of command suggested that I try volunteering with the Armed Services YMCA, and I’ve stuck with it ever since,” said Hospitalman Darrell J. Young, a medical-hold patient who has been volunteering for seven months in the Patient Recreation program.
“I feel good, it’s really heartwarming to help somebody and make someone’s time in the hospital easier,” said Young.
Retired Marine Master Sgt. Robert W. Samuel, a 27-year volunteer at the hospital and recipient of the 1989 ASYMCA Volunteer of the Year award, says that as long as he is healthy enough to get out of bed and make it to the hospital he will keep volunteering.
“I think it is great that the staff embraces the volunteers,” said Samuel. “It takes some training and effort for (the volunteers) to learn what they need to be doing to help out.”
Becoming a full-time ASYMCA volunteer requires a dedicated commitment of at least 100 hours per year.
There is a military volunteer program for active duty personnel which is flexible and based on the service member’s schedule, to include working nights and weekends, as well as outside of the hospital.
“You just can’t walk in off the street and say ‘hey, I really care about the military and want to do something,’” said Cherri Barnswell, the senior program director of the ASYMCA at NMCSD. “One of the things about volunteering here is that there is a process to it. You have to really be committed to what you’re doing.”
For more information about volunteer opportunities contact the ASYMCA at (619) 532-8156.