ROCKINGHAM — If a white coat and stethoscope are in Will Pressley’s future, he’ll credit his volunteer service with setting him on the right path.
The 16-year-old is in his second year as a volunteer at FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital and said he wanted to be a lawyer before learning more about medicine and patient care.
“I liked the flow of the hospital,” Pressley said. “A bunch of people working together. One big community. I decided on a medical career and I wanted something that paid a lot so I decided on anesthesiologist.”
Pressley said he’s excited that he may have the opportunity to shadow a working anesthesiologist before the summer is over.
Volunteers say the joy of helping people is its own reward, but many working professionals started out as volunteers in their field. Elizabeth Hawks, a registered nurse at Richmond Memorial, lent a hand at the hospital as a teenager.
“I enjoyed it a lot because I knew that’s where I wanted to head in life,” she said.
Hawks said she makes it a point to remind volunteers to always have a smile on their face.
Sixteen-year-old Teressa Brown of Rockingham started volunteering at Richmond County Hospice last year as part of its new VolunTeen program after watching her last living grandparent, Pearleane Diggs, suffer from renal failure before passing away.
Brown wants to be a pediatrician and hopes to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or N.C. State University.
Brown provides hospice patients with a “listening ear,” according to Lisa O’Neil, volunteer coordinator for Richmond County Hospice.
Lauren Brewer, 18, Rockingham, is currently working with the city of Rockingham’s Parks and Recreation Center’s summer camp. Brewer said she “loves working with kids” and also works at Dance Sensations.
Brewer volunteered with the parks and rec department three years ago to get service hours for Beta Club and the the National Honor Society. Brewer plans to go on to pharmaceutical school.
“Having the experience would help me in the long run,” Brewer said of volunteeting.
State Sen. Gene McLaurin said he grew up volunteering for his church. He saw the activities as a “great way to make friends and get to know the community.”
McLaurin credits his volunteer efforts in both junior high and high school with sparking his interest in government and public service.
“Volunteering gives a sense of pride and purpose,” McLaurin said, “…and that is greater than any financial rerward.”
The former Rockingham mayor is running for his second term representing District 25 - which includes Richmond, Scotland, Anson, Rowan and Stanly counties - in the North Carolina Senate.
Richmond County Sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr. said he has “always volunteered.”
As a 13-year-old in Philadelphia, he shoveled snow and cleaned yards with his local Boy Scouts troop.
“Volunteering teaches responsibility, honor, integrity and commitment,” Clemmons said.
The sheriff added that he “wishes it would happen more,” noting that there are many community groups in Richmond County in need of volunteers.
CHURCH SEEKS MENTORS
Teens volunteer in the community and within their congregation at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Rockingham.
Providence’s pastor, the Rev. Lamont Johnson, said youth group members are striving to change the world by following the group’s acronym STABLE — serious, timely, accountable, benevolent, learning and education.
Youth group members were stationed outside Auto Zone on U.S. 74 last Friday for a car wash and bake sale. Breanner Wall,17 and Ivy Nicholson, 18, both of Rockingham, went to bed at 3 a.m. and woke up at 7 a.m. to help out with the fundraiser for their youth conference in September.
The youth group has 50 youth ranging from 7 to 18. It currently has seven community mentors, and organizers are seeking additional “role models within the community” said Johnson, who encourages everyone to “lead through service.”
For more information on volunteer opportunities with the Providence Missionary Baptist Church youth group, call Angelina Crank at 910-719-2465.