Maddie Webb Find a Location Find a Doctor Volunteer Services When I first began volunteering at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, I was a timid, awkward and significantly shorter fourteen-year-old girl. On my very first and only day of training, I was given a tour of the unfathomably massive hospital and unleashed to help visitors find their way. Nervous does not even begin to describe how I felt. The embarrassment when I showed my very first visitor the exact wrong way to the room where her granddaughter was being born was a fairly notable emotion, too. Shyly, I would greet visitors with the hint of a smile and clumsily transition from my chair at the information desk to the hall where I would proceed to show them the path to their patient’s rooms, trying apprehensively to make small talk on the lengthy walks. On Friday nights and Sunday morning lulls, I would answer questions asked by my desk partner, some other teen volunteer or receptionist, since I was too scared to initiate a conversation and ask on my own. Eventually, I found myself switching from describing myself as “socially awkward” to seeing myself as a confident, cheerful and adequate greeter. My grins got bigger, my hellos louder, my talk smoother and more natural, my directions correct. I enjoyed welcoming people, hoping that a friendly presence would make a worrisome hospital visit just a bit more tolerable. I was comfortable in my chair at the desk, opening up to the volunteers and employees at the computer next to me. I looked forward to talking to these new friends, updating them on the exciting events and even the unfortunate happenings in my life as we received new visitors. The comfort that I developed volunteering as a guest guide transitioned into my daily life as well. I was more outgoing and amiable to others, both friends and strangers. I was not nearly as scared to initiate conversations or speak publicly. I became more confident, someone who no longer would seek refuge in the background. More than ever, I was a participant and a believer in myself and my abilities. At the hospital, I developed relationships with incredibly caring, thoughtful and wise people outside my age group. These are valuable friendships that I have no doubt I will treasure and strive to maintain even after I stop volunteering at St. Elizabeth. Even today, as I approach what will likely be my last few months as a hospital volunteer, I find myself getting more confident still, constantly exercising my social skills and strengthening my already meaningful relationships with hospital employees. Volunteering at St. Elizabeth Healthcare has been an absolute essential part of my growing up. Being in such a supportive, welcoming environmental conducive to personal development for the four most important years of my adolescence has been unbelievably beneficial. It is entirely possible that I would not be the strong, confident, successful and passionate young girl that I am today without the skills volunteering allowed me to exercise, particularly because these same skills were certainly not the ones that came naturally to me. Before volunteering, I was afraid to leave the comfort of my small high school, but now I am entering college excited. I am ready to meet new people and confident in my abilities to communicate and express myself to them. St. Elizabeth has been the key to making me the person I am today – Maddie Webb, a capable, undoubting, welcoming and caring eighteen-year-old woman.