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A Long-distance Volunteer

Posted on Aug 21, 2019

“Hi! Did someone ask for an ice pop?”

The frosty purple treat is welcomed by a shy smile from a young boy recovering from a procedure in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU).

Moments like these are why teen volunteer Jack Johnson elected to spend his summer at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

The Student Summer Volunteer Program is a highly sought-after opportunity for both high school and college students. With an intensive application process including reference letters and proof of at least a 3.0 unweighted GPA, only a handful of the best students are eligible for the program each summer.

Jack knows he is one of the lucky ones — the distance he has been willing to travel makes that clear.

For this volunteer, home is nearly 1,000 miles away in New York City though he stayed with family in St. Petersburg over the summer break. When the start of the volunteer program and the end of his school year didn’t quite line up, he went the extra mile to fly down on the weekends. For Jack, volunteering at such a respected pediatric hospital was an opportunity that could not be passed up.

While many people dream of a summer vacation relaxing on a sunny Florida beach, Jack is hard at work focused on a different type of dream.

“I want to go into medicine and hopefully become a surgeon,” he explains. “Volunteering allows me to see many different sides of the hospital. Coming to Johns Hopkins All Children’s was an easy choice. It’s such a recognized and respected name.”

During morning volunteer shifts, he is a friendly face at the perioperative services family desk lending help to families as they prepare for a procedure. In the afternoons, Jack assists the PACU nurses by cleaning rooms after patients leave, changing the bed linens, bringing treats to recovering patients and even coming up with his own projects to assist staff and families. He does it all with a smile — a simple gesture appreciated by all.

“I like being able to help people and volunteering here is a way to contribute that is meaningful and fun,” Jack adds.

As summer draws to a close, this volunteer, like many others, is looking to the future. With the Johns Hopkins All Children’s name on his resume, Jack has his sights set on a clinical research program offered by his high school.

“Seeing the little bit of happiness ice pops and juice bring reminds me of why I want to be a surgeon — so I can bring more joy to kids and their families.”

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