Student volunteer gains confidence on the job, designated as two-time gold level recipient of the Indiana Barbara James Service Award

Student volunteer gains confidence on the job, designated as two-time gold level recipient of the Indiana Barbara James Service Award

Two years ago, when Morton High School student Alexandra Medina was looking for future career experience at a “well-rounded place where I could obtain skills needed in the healthcare field,” she didn’t need to look far. She found the experience she was looking for by volunteering at Community Hospital in Munster. Over the past two years, Medina has racked up more than 250+ service hours between 2019 and 2020, making her eligible to receive HOSA’s Barbara James Service Award for her efforts.

HOSA Future Health Professionals (formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America) is an international career and technical student organization endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Technology Education Division of ACTE. The Barbara James Service Award provides members with the opportunity to become contributing members of their communities by performing worthy volunteer community service hours related to health. The Barbara James Service Award is in memory of Barbara James, 1982-83 HOSA Inc. board chairman. The award aims to inspire members to be proactive future health professionals and recognize individual HOSA members who have a commitment to community service in health.

“Alexandra completed more than 250 hours of volunteer service to receive the Barbara James Service Award at the state level,” said Kerri A. Clark, manager, Volunteer Services, Community Hospital, who helped Medina verify and log in her service hours. “She completed 109 of them at the front desk since returning to service November 10, 2020. Since she started in December 2019, she has completed 383 service hours at the hospital. For reference, most volunteers earn roughly 200 hours per year. For the award, bronze level equals 100 to 174.9 hours; silver level equals 175 to 249.9 hours and gold level equals 250+ hours per year.”

“From my understanding, Alexandra in June will be considered for her efforts at the International Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., to receive national level recognition,” Clark explained.

At Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital, St. Mary Medical Center and specialty hospital Community Stroke & Rehabilitation Center, volunteers and their unique talents are carefully matched with innovative work opportunities to extend the system’s mission of providing quality healthcare.

Whether working directly with patients to help them find their way through the hospital hallways or working behind the scenes; volunteers enjoy the opportunity to meet new people, keep active while providing important services and experience the personal satisfaction that comes from helping others.

“Volunteering has many benefits,” says Teresa L. Pedroza, system director, Volunteer Services, Community Healthcare System. “While our volunteers help to support the hospitals, they also receive personal satisfaction in giving their time and talents. It’s a win-win situation. Our volunteers put in thousands of hours contributing to the mission and values of Community Healthcare System.”

Medina is currently aiming for her certification in Emergency Medicine as an EMT, but has an end goal of working in the surgical field. She said that she chose Community Hospital because there are so many different positions in the hospital setting that an individual can start by gaining experience in one field, but easily progress to other areas as well.

“Volunteering has allowed me to grow at a professional and personal level,” Medina said. “I have met a lot of new people who each have contributed to my development. I have gained many skills, for instance, self-discipline, stress management, attention to detail, decision making and initiative. I encourage other students to start contributing to their communities through volunteer service hours.”

Individuals, 18 years of age and older, who are interested in greeting, directing, escorting and transporting patients are encouraged to apply. To learn how your time and talents can be put to good use at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System: Community Hospital (Munster), St. Catherine Hospital (East Chicago), St. Mary Medical Center (Hobart) or Community Stroke & Rehabilitation Center (Crown Point), please contact the Department of Volunteer Services at 219-703-1031 (Munster); 219-392-7031 (East Chicago) or 219-947-6011 (Hobart and Crown Point) or visit