Adventist St. Thomas Hospice seeking teen volunteers
Among her duties as an Adventist St. Thomas Hospice teen volunteer, Kaitlin Lacek visits senior citizens in local assisted living facilities.
Updated: October 8, 2012 10:34AM
HINSDALE — Kaitlin Lacek likes seeing other people smile.
It is one of the reasons the 17-year-old decided to volunteer for Adventist St. Thomas Hospice.
A Downers Grove resident and a senior at Downers Grove North High School, Lacek has had many volunteering opportunities to choose from at the hospice. Over the last two years, she has helped out at craft activities at care facilities, and participated at ice cream socials, luau parties and bingo at nursing homes.
“The residents at assisted living facilities tell me how much they appreciate our being there,” Lacek said. “I can see it in their faces and in their smiles. Volunteering for the hospice has helped me see what other people are going through. Becoming more aware of other people’s problems can open your eyes, and take the focus off yourself. It gives life more meaning.”
Adventist St. Thomas Hospice has a special program for teen volunteers. Lacek found out about the program through her mother, Janet Narish, a supervisor in the radiology department at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.
“Volunteering has been good for Kaitlin,” Narish said. “She looks forward to the events and she likes meeting new people. Plus, it builds character. Working with the residents at care facilities really touched her, and made her appreciate doing other volunteer work. I think more teens should get involved in volunteering and the hospice is an excellent place to start.”
After volunteering regularly at health-care facilities, Lacek became eligible to volunteer at Tommy’s Kids, a summer day camp for children who have lost a family member. Tommy’s Kids is run by Adventist St. Thomas Hospice. During the summer of 2011, Lacek was an assistant at the day camp, and in 2012, she advanced to a counselor position.
“When the kids first come to camp, they’re shy and don’t want to talk,” Lacek said. “But by Friday, the transformation is amazing. The kids learn that they can still have fun living, while remembering the parent, sibling or other loved one that they lost.”
Lacek also volunteers through her high school. She was elected president of the National Honor Society at Downers Grove North High School by her peers. Members of the National Honor Society must maintain a high grade point average and be involved in the community.
Teens can choose from many volunteering opportunities with Adventist St. Thomas Hospice, such as making visits for hospice patient birthdays and participating at events such as craft projects, bingo games, ice cream socials and holiday parties.
For information on the Adventist St. Thomas Hospice teen volunteer program, contact Heather Kochen at (630) 856-6985 or email@example.com.