Thursday, August 29, 2013

Introducing AHCA/NCAL’s 2013 Group Volunteer of the Year, Helensview High School!

Anne Frank once wrote, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Students at Helensview High School in Portland, OR. not only understand this adage, they live by it.

Since 2009, Helensview, an engaging environment designed to help students with needs that have not been met in other educational settings, teamed with Porthaven Care Center, a 99-bed long term care and rehabilitation center, to create a volunteer program.

Students in the volunteer program enjoy playing board games and making crafts with residents. Recently, the group proposed, developed, and implemented a special design area in the facility to display resident art projects.

Many Porthaven residents and Helensview students have developed rewarding relationships and strong intergenerational bonds.

“Not only do the students come on their volunteer day, but many found time in their busy lives as young single parents, working and going to school, to drop in on the birthday of their ‘buddy’ and surprise them with a card or balloon,” said Sarah Murk, administrator at Porthaven Care Center, in her nomination of the group. “One student organized a birthday party for a resident who was in hospice care. The resident described the day as his ‘best birthday ever.’”

Porthaven staff has noticed that Helensview students have assisted in improving resident behaviors, as well.

“One resident said, ‘These kids are so special, and they treat me like I am special,’” said Jodi Burroughs, activities director at Porthaven, in her nomination. “This resident has developmental disabilities and a serious seizure disorder, which presented some challenges. After he began participating in activities with [the students], he not only developed confidence in himself, but his behaviors improved!”

Currently, the Helensview program has a lengthy student waiting list.

“It’s so exciting to watch our student volunteers connect with Porthaven residents,” said Kris Persson, principal at Helensview High School. “We hope that this program inspires students to continue volunteering throughout their lifetimes.”

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