Giving Back, Socializing & Joy
As a young person, Paula Parra realized the meaning and value of hospice care. Suncoast Hospice cared for her grandmother and supported the family, too. Touched by that beautiful experience, Paula chose to get involved and carry forward our mission. She has served as a teen volunteer at the Countryside Suncoast Hospice Resale Shoppe for more than a year.
“I really wanted to volunteer there because a hospice team helped us out a lot when my grandma was sick and at our home. They helped us emotionally, all our family, and I wanted to give back. I thought it was a great service they gave us,” said Paula, whose mom also was a hospice volunteer.
Paula helps out at the store as a cashier and bagger as well as puts clothes back out on the floor from the dressing room. She also has pitched in with our signature springtime fashion show fundraiser, featuring hand-picked selections from our three resale shoppes. The stores raise vital funds that support the care and services Empath Health provides to the community.
Working with her fellow teen volunteer on their Friday afternoon shifts and interacting with customers brings Paula happiness.
“It has been wonderful. The people there are great. The things I like the most are talking to people, being social and helping customers. We have regulars who come in and tell us how they love it at our store and that it’s so well-organized. The relationships with the other volunteers also are nice,” she said.
An academically-driven junior in Palm Harbor University’s International Baccalaureate program, Paula plans to pursue a medical career, something she has dreamed of since she was a young girl. Spending her extracurricular time volunteering for a cause near to her heart has made a big impact on her life.
“I think it has made me appreciate everything I have a lot more. People come in and tell us stories and they’re so happy, and that makes me happy, too.”
Having Fun, Supporting the Mission
Larry Frank heard his friend liked volunteering at our Clearwater resale shoppe and decided to join in, too. A dedicated teen volunteer, Larry has put in more than 300 hours as a cashier and providing other general assistance at the store since June 2014.
“My friend was volunteering and having fun, so I wanted to check it out. I loved it,” said Larry, whose mother also volunteers at the store and first introduced him to volunteering in their church.
At the store, Larry typically volunteers on Saturday afternoons and has filled in at other times when needed. His service earned him a teen volunteer-of-the-month recognition earlier this year.
He likes the store and has heard wonderful feedback from customers about their hospice care experiences. “I think we have a great manager. She tries to keep everybody happy, both customers and volunteers. She works hard and the store does great. We’ve had lots of regulars,” he said.
A senior at Pinellas Park High School, Larry’s leaning toward a business accounting profession.
“I feel like business accounting would be good for me because I’m good with math and I like secretarial-type work. Filing things and being useful in minor ways is something I’ve always enjoyed.”
Glad to be part of our mission, he shared, “I think we have a good mission. I like hospice because it helps let people have a softer end of their life instead of pain. I like that it’s extended to more than just end of life to homebound people and others. I like that because they need help, too.”
Want to learn more teen volunteer opportunities at Suncoast Hospice and the other Empath Health organizations? Check out our website.