Student Volunteers Make Impact in Community

Senior Chester Hui (third from right) received the Student Volunteer of the Year award at a Queens Medical Center volunteer luncheon.

At HBA, many students participate in service clubs such as NHS, Interact, and Red Cross.

A select few take their volunteering to a higher level throughout the year on their own time.

Senior Chester Hui is the President of the National Honor Society this year. Apart from facilitating service projects in the club, throughout the year Hui volunteers at Queen’s Medical Center (QMC) for four hours every Sunday. Because he wants to pursue a career in the medical field, he decided to volunteer to familiarize himself with the environment of a hospital. Hui chose this particular hospital because its staff members are known for their great work ethic and values. According to their website, in 2009, QMC “achieved Magnet® status—the highest institutional honor for hospital excellence—from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).” The Magnet® status measures a hospital’s strength and quality of their nursing.

Along with transporting and discharging patients, Hui also helps with deliveries and projects. His favorite part about volunteering is the opportunity to interact with patients. “You get to make a positive impact on their road to recovery while serving them,” he said. He has also learned that both genuine patient care and quality customer service are crucial for a hospital to be successful. He observes that despite stressful working environments, the physicians he works with always “share their aloha.” Earlier this year, Hui was honored as the student volunteer of the year. In their newsletter, QMC remarks that “Chester is enthusiastic and always willing to help.” He encourages students to volunteer because “it can give them a head start on exploring careers.” He adds, “Because volunteering is similar to actually working, it helps them discover what they actually like and don’t like doing.”

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“You get to make a positive impact on their road to recovery while serving them.”

Senior Chester Hui, volunteer at Queens Medical Center

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Likewise, senior Sydney Suzuki, co-chair of the Special Olympics committee in NHS, volunteers at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, which is next to HBA’s elementary campus on Kuakini Street. Because she is considering a career in occupational therapy, she shadows an occupational therapist, and occasionally trains with a physical therapist. She chose to volunteer at this hospital because her mother’s cousin used to work there. The location is also very convenient for her, since it is only minutes away from the high school campus by car.

Suzuki says that the best part about volunteering is having the opportunity to connect one-on-one with patients. Not only does she get to learn about different medical conditions, she also gets to enjoy listening to patients tell stories about their personal lives. She says, “Through this experience I have learned the importance of interpersonal skills. Each patient stays in the clinic for two weeks on average, so there are always people coming and going. You really have to learn to strike up conversations with people you’ve never met before.”

Suzuki volunteers twice a week after school. Like Hui, Suzuki also encourages students to volunteer especially if they are trying to figure out their future careers. She emphasizes volunteering at the Rehab Hospital in particular, since “the therapists at the Rehab of the Pacific are extremely friendly and are always happy to answer questions and help you learn more about what they do.”

Another senior, Jason Lau, co-founded the Volunteer Club with his fellow classmate Alexander Wong this school year. Lau volunteers at the American Cancer Society (ACS), which is located near HBA’s high school campus. Lau does a variety of jobs, ranging from filing to doing paperwork.

“I decided to volunteer there because my mom had cancer, and I want to help people know about cancer or support them if they have cancer,” he said. The thing he enjoys most about volunteering is being able to talk to different people he wouldn’t otherwise have met in his normal day-to-day life. He has learned how busy the organization can be, especially because the people he works with always have work to do, no matter the time of day. Lau volunteers throughout the week, but because he is a full-time student, his supervisor is flexible with his schedule. Lau encourages other students to volunteer at the ACS of Hawaii especially since they are always in need of volunteers.

While few underclassmen take up volunteer opportunities, sophomore Class President Megan Yamauchi sets an example for her peers by volunteering at Petco. As a child, she loved going to the Hawaiian Humane Society with her father to look and play with the animals there. Yamauchi has a cat that was adopted from the Humane Society as a kitten. On the day of the adoption, as Yamauchi was leaving with her kitten, a little girl told her, “I’m happy that at least one kitten will go home today.” This simple statement moved Yamauchi to compassion as she realized many animals at the shelter were previously abused and abandoned, and not very many people were willing to adopt them. From that time on, she decided to take action because she believes every animal deserves a good home.

Today, Yamauchi volunteers for the Humane Society at Petco to help with dog adoptions. She feels the best part about her work is being able to watch soon-to-be pet owners connect with their newfound family members. She loves knowing that a dog will be taken care of in a loving home, especially since it has most likely been abandoned or abused by its previous owner. She says, “Every time I volunteer, there are at least two dogs that have been abused so badly that they’ll not want to interact with people and just hide the entire time. It’ll be so bad that they won’t want to eat, drink, or even go to the bathroom during an adoption session, because they’re so freaked out by people coming up to them.”

She encourages other students to volunteer, be it at Petco or another place, because “there’s always room to help out somewhere.” She adds, “Sometimes we don’t understand how bad some situations are so we take them for granted, but volunteering really opens your eyes to make you see that some people or animals don’t have it as good as others.”

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