Teen Volunteers at Odessa Hospital Earn National Attention

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Odessa high schooler Kian Villagonzalo first started volunteering at Medical Center Hospital for the hours.

"Volunteering at the hospital at Medical Center was a really good way to get Texas Scholar Hours," he said.

But now a handful of years have gone by and he's still hooked.

"I like the people, the staff. They're nice," Villagonzalo said. "They're good to interact with, interacting with patients."

Villagonzalo is one of 116 junior volunteers at MCH, going everywhere and doing just about anything to help, a welcome aid now that more people are heading to the hospitals thanks to more Basin car wrecks.

"The volunteers have been a great asset for us, especially during those times when our volume has increased," MCH Emergency Department Director, Kelly Lappe, said.

Each one of these volunteers has a full plate.

"They are ones that will sit with family, hold hands," Lappe said.

"I've escorted patients, taken wheelchairs. I've worked on all the floors," Villagonzalo said. "'Can I get you a wheelchair? Would you like a water?' Things like that."

This system works, so much so that MCH's teen volunteer program was picked as one out of two in the entire country to present their program at the Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals National Conference in Dallas this September.

Villagonzalo will be one of the presenters.

"Excited," he said. "I want to go to this but the whole anxiety attack is going to set in."

But he said he's happy to show the nation just how much their volunteer program does for the patients and what it teaches the volunteers themselves.

"Integrity, responsibility, those really basic things," Villagonzalo said. "I was the type to kind of hide in the back of the classroom, speak only when spoken to, and now I'm here doing this interview. It's a lot of personal growth for me."

Their presentation will be on September 21st at the Omni Hotel in Dallas.

If you'd like to join MCH's junior volunteers, the application process begins next January 1st.