by Leah Hyatt
This summer, approximately 120 teenagers will volunteer more than 8,000
hours at MUSC through the Candy Stripe Program. As part of this
program, young people have the opportunity to volunteer in their
community and gain experience that they can apply to a career in health
Candy stripers perform a variety of tasks throughout the hospital.
Their duties might include greeting and directing visitors, escorting
families of patients, transporting patients, serving coffee and tea to
staff and visitors, assisting with meal preparation, providing
bilingual services, and delivering flowers, meals and mail to patients.
stripers Katelyn Stalbird (front) and Katharine Summers clean equipment
that they will distribute to the nurses’ stations.
Matthias Frye, volunteer
recruiter with Volunteer and Guest Services, said that one volunteer
even plays the piano for patients and visitors at Hollings Cancer
Center. “The candy stripe program provides assistance to departments
that could use an extra set of hands,” explained Frye. “The junior
volunteers also help make the hospital a little happier and
In addition to providing much needed support in the hospital, the
program also hopes to influence the career goals of volunteers. “We
offer teens in the community a small glimpse through the health care
window,” said Katy Kuder, manager of Volunteer and Guest Services. “I
know that we will affect and change the career paths of some students.
We will assist in enriching the lives of young boys and girls, while
encouraging a career in health care.”
Teenagers who volunteer get to meet health care professionals and
observe some of the activities and tasks that are involved with certain
health care jobs. Georgia Barfield, a student at Wando High School,
said that her volunteer experience reaffirmed her plans to go into the
medical field. “I already knew that I wanted to be an OB/GYN,” Barfield
said. “After volunteering here, I’m 100 percent sure that’s what I want
The Candy Stripe Program is for volunteers between the ages of 14 and
18 who can participate in one of three summer sessions. The first
session was June 15 – 26, the second was July 13 – 24, and the third is
Aug. 3 – 14. Students are required to work a total of 72 hours during
their two-week session.
Last summer, organizers expanded the program from one summerlong
session to three two-week sessions to allow for a maximum number of
students to volunteer at the hospital. Interested students, however,
can volunteer for all three sessions.
Shelby Jones, a student at Porter-Gaud High School, volunteered during
the first and second sessions in order to meet her high school’s
required 90 hours of community service. Shelby worked as a concierge in
Ashley River Tower. She answered the telephone, signed in visitors, and
escorted families to see their admitted family member.
“I like interacting with the patients and their families,” said Jones.
“People with all different backgrounds come in. Many people come here
from out of state. The other day I even got to meet a family from
This program is a unique opportunity both for students interested in
health care and also those who simply want to do community service. “We
accept a number of volunteers who just want to help out and those who
want to do something constructive with their free time,” said Frye.
Volunteer Katharine Summers, a student at Cane Bay High School, helped
in the central distribution area where she worked with various types of
equipment. In her role as a junior volunteer, she wiped down, bagged
up, and distributed equipment to the appropriate nurses’ stations. She
worked with feeding pumps, foot pumps, IV pumps, epidural pumps, and
While Summers is interested in medicine as either a physical therapist
or hospital administrator, she pointed out that this volunteer
experience will be useful toward any future goal. “Volunteering looks
good on college applications,” Summers said.
Whether preparing for a future in health care, building up a college
resume or just wanting to make a difference in the community, youth
provide significant service to MUSC every summer.
For more information about volunteering, call MUSC Volunteer and Guest Services, 792-3580, or visit http://www.muschealth.com/volunteer.
Friday, July 31, 2009