SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) Volunteer Program at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) has been serving patients and staff since 1982.
ASYMCA runs approximately 40 volunteer programs a month including medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), family support programs, reading to pediatric patients, patient recreation, ward visitation leaders, game day in the wards, therapy dog escorts and game night in the liberty center.
"There are a lot of people who benefit from volunteering," said ASYMCA volunteer coordinator Erin Lester. "The volunteers themselves certainly benefit through the opportunity to give back, as well as the patients whether they are active duty here seeking treatment or others who are up in the wards."
In 2009, a total of 197 volunteers took part with approximately 10 percent of them being active duty personnel.
"My chain of command suggested that I try volunteering with the Armed Services YMCA, and I've stuck with it ever since," said Hospitalman Darrell J. Young, who has been volunteering for seven months in the Patient Recreation program.
"I feel good, it's really heartwarming to help somebody and make someone's time in the hospital easier," said Young.
Retired Marine Master Sgt. Robert W. Samuel, a 27-year volunteer at the hospital and recipient of the 1989 NMCSD ASYMCA Volunteer of the Year award, said that as long as he is healthy enough to get out of bed and make it to the hospital he will keep volunteering.
"I think it is great that the staff embraces the volunteers," said Samuel. "It takes some training and effort for [the volunteers] to learn what they need to be doing to help out."
Becoming a full-time NMCSD volunteer requires a dedicated commitment of at least 100 hours a year.
There is a military volunteer program for active duty personnel which is flexible and based on the service member's schedule, to include working nights and weekends, as well as outside of the hospital.
"You just can't walk in off the street and say hey, I really care about the military and want to do something," said Cherri Barnswell, senior program director of NMCSD ASYMCA. "One of the things about volunteering here is that it's not an easy process. There is an application and training process people go through in order to volunteer. Volunteers learn about (Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act) HIPAA forms, and attend an orientation class before they can start the program. It's quite involved, so people really have to want to be here to volunteer."
For more information about volunteer opportunities contact NMCSD ASYMCA at (619) 532-8156.
For more news from Naval Medical Center San Diego, visit www.navy.mil/local/sd/.