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From a student volunteer: 'My parents told me to help where you can'

From a student volunteer: 'My parents told me to help where you can'
Thursday, December 08, 2022

Volunteers play a vital role at Gundersen. Some want to give back. Some volunteer while enjoying retirement. Others, like Delanie Johnson and Mollie Fredrickson, volunteer as a first step into healthcare. And that's not uncommon, said Gundersen's volunteer coordinator, Erica Borde.

"Many of our student volunteers return to Gundersen as employees in their future careers, so we feel lucky to be part of their journey into healthcare," she said.

From volunteer to intern

Delanie Johnson, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, was a freshman, she – along with all her fellow students – was sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was inspiring to see our local healthcare professionals step up to the needs of this community,” Johnson said. “Being a student, I asked myself, ‘How do I fit into this puzzle?’ I wanted to be on the right side of keeping our community safe.”

Johnson decided to change majors. She went from studying bio medical science to public health. And, she started volunteering at Gundersen. She was deployed to address the Social Determinants of Health in La Crosse as a Community Resource Connector volunteer.

“Growing up, my parents told me to help where you can. The best thing you can give the world is to show up and have a positive attitude,” Johnson said.

In January, Johnson will join our Office of Population Health as an intern.

“I’m able to apply my experience directly to what I’m learning in my classes,” she said. “It’s making a big difference in the way I see and understand public health.”

A career path made clear

Mollie Fredrickson started volunteering at the Hospital Gift Shop in high school. She knew she wanted to work in healthcare and thought this setting would give her a bird’s-eye view. After a pandemic pause, she returned as a college student volunteer.

“I started volunteering in Pediatrics,” Fredrickson said, adding that she got to know the child life specialists at Gundersen – a team that works with kids and their families to help them cope with hospitalization, illness and disabilities. “Gundersen has helped me grow and discover what I want to do next.”

Erica Borde, volunteer coordinator at Gundersen, says it's not uncommon for student volunteers to return to Gundersen as an employee. "Many of our student volunteers return to Gundersen as employees in their future careers, so we feel lucky to be part of their journey into healthcare."

A recent graduate of UW-L, Fredrickson plans to become a child life specialist. She continues to spend every Thursday at Gundersen volunteering. On one particular Thursday, she was able to make the life of a teenager – and patient – just a little bit better.

“I was able to take her to the OT playroom where we played Jenga. Each wooden piece had a question on it, so we got to know each other better,” Fredrickson said. “She told me that she was missing school and her friends and appreciated connecting with someone and having fun.”

How to volunteer at Gundersen

Join Johnson and Fredrickson and give back to our patients and community by joining our Volunteer Services.

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