Katie Gardner, a student volunteer at the VA Health Care System in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is the recipient of the James H. Parke Memorial Fund Youth Scholarship. Pictured above with a Veteran during this year’s Salute to Veteran Patients, Gardner describes in this blog her duties and what volunteering means to her.
“This experience has helped me better understand patriotism.”
My duties have been diverse and have included: greeter, hostess, concessions selling popcorn and serving coffee, clerical, holiday decorating, carrying lab specimens, and light housekeeping. No matter what my assignment is, there is always an opportunity to interact with other volunteers, patients, and Veterans.
There is always an opportunity to make a difference and honor our Veterans. This is the best part about volunteering.
I have been blessed with many new friends of all ages through this experience. I love how the adult volunteers come on certain days every week and some work together as husband and wife, which is extra special to witness. Adult volunteers have been incredible role models to me and have shown me the type of adult I aspire to be. I have also been fortunate to get to know many of the amazing employees, especially those in the Voluntary Services Department.
I was especially honored when three staff members from the medical center traveled to Tampa to be there when I received the James Parke scholarship. I know they all have very busy schedules and many commitments to their jobs, yet they took the time to travel to Tampa. These are the types of people who work at the VA medical center.
I plan to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I will major in Agricultural Communications and Leadership and pursue a minor in Agricultural Business. I am interested in pursuing a graduate degree relating to public policy.
I cannot think of a better place for teens to volunteer than at their VA medical center. Lessons learned through this experience have helped me better understand patriotism, compassion, and servant leadership. This experience has helped me realize my passions and my core values.
This experience has allowed me to serve those who were willing to do so much for me. The sacrifices our Veterans are willing to make are incredible and they deserve so much. I am honored to volunteer and serve them.
About the author: Katie Gardner is a student volunteer at the VA Health Care System in Fayetteville, Arkansas.