2019 Seniors Helping Seniors Spring Scholarship – 1st Place Winner

June 4, 2019

The 1st Place $1,000 scholarship was awarded to Ben Vogel, who will be graduating from Laguna Beach High School mid-June. He will be attending University of Southern California where he will study health promotion and disease prevention.

2019 bay alarm medical scholarship winner benjamin vogel

The following essay was written by Benjamin Vogel.

After accompanying my best friend in her treatment for cancer, I decided to volunteer at my local hospital. I learned that the senior inpatient program was in dire need of volunteer services, so there I completed over 500 hours of community service and, once promoted, organized an innovative program for scheduling and managing other volunteers at the hospital who also worked with the senior program. From these experiences, I have gained monumental insight into myself, the importance of community service, and the amazing opportunities and life lessons that arise when working with the elderly.

Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach has been the epicenter of my life for the past two years. There, I developed a passion for caring for sick seniors. I took pride in preparing beds so the doctors and nurses could focus on more important things and spent my free moments talking to the elderly patients; they would ask me about school, or we would work on puzzles together. In the first 13 months, I also became proficient in preparing IV and blood kits. Because of this dedication to the hospital, the hospital staff asked me to become the manager of the Laguna Beach Hospital volunteers. During my first Mission Hospital Volunteer Board meeting, the Director informed me that the Laguna Beach group desperately needed more volunteers for the senior program or the hospital would discontinue the program. I acted immediately to save it, speaking to a dozen classes at Laguna Beach High School, advocating for the importance of senior specific health resources and the cruciality of young people and older people working together. I recruited fifteen new volunteers.

At the end of my junior year, I administered the volunteer admission process and helped my peers complete the extensive application. Additionally, I spent a total of 48 hours, training four groups of senior volunteers. The rigorous process of assisting both peers and elders in completing the process on-time taught me to become a strict, yet compassionate, manager that was capable of working across age boundaries. When several of my volunteers lacked transportation, I drove them to get vaccinated. When my volunteers became overwhelmed with all of the training information, I offered them moral support and tutoring. After four hard months, my new volunteers began hospital work. I felt a sense of pride in helping them gain skills and routines that benefited the hospital as well as connecting young volunteers with the elders that needed care.

While working as the Manager of Volunteers, I felt the frustration of students who needed to reschedule shifts because of school conflicts. I started to write a smartphone app to solve the problem. While working out the functionality, I stumbled upon an off-the-shelf app to schedule our staff. I obtained funding for a pilot project and created an innovative way to track volunteer schedules. This program became so successful that the main hospital adopted the system and continues to use it.

I now manage 15 volunteers who play vital roles at the senior inpatient program. I aspire to grow the program so more students may serve their elders and learn the immense joy of working with seniors. I am on-track to recruit 20 more volunteers this academic year and recently launched the second volunteer phase in December 2018.

Volunteering at the senior program at Laguna Beach Hospital has opened my eyes to the ways that seniors are neglected and the crucial nature of connecting able people, young and old, to provide support, medicine, and community to our seniors who are hospital ridden. Furthermore, it made me realize how isolated many seniors are and how a simple smile and conversation can go such a long way. The elderly people who I worked with changed my life in more ways than just making me aware of their struggles. They also offered fantastic advice, made me smile, and had a worldly wisdom I could not have gotten anywhere else. I feel proud that I mobilized other students at my school to volunteer, not just at the hospital, but in the senior unit specifically.

The winners were chosen from more than 300 entries into the Bay Alarm Medical scholarship essay contest. Students were asked to submit essays describing how working with seniors has impacted their lives and taught them valuable life lessons. Visit our Scholarship page for further details or if you are interested in learning more about our Seniors for Seniors Scholarship.

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