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MHCC nursing students volunteer in community

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: MHCC NURSING STUDENTS - Mt. Hood Community College nursing students (from left to right) Krista Carter, Hannah Palodichtk, Cassandra Raines  and Ashlee Rosebrook walk and run for Be the Match earlier this year. Nurses are among the most caring people on earth, and the nursing students at Mt. Hood Community College are getting a head start on compassion with a robust volunteer program that takes them into the community to help out.

“It will make me a better nurse. Being around in the community helps me understand and be aware of the needs of all different kinds of people,” said Gresham nursing student Cassandra Westgate.

MHCC’s nursing program, which has about 80 students, asks students to volunteer as a homework assignment, said nursing instructor Monterey Anthony.

“I let them pick what they want to do to volunteer. They do some research, and they learn a lot about the community’s needs just through that,” she said.

Anthony agrees with the premise that volunteer work will help the students become better nurses.

“We need nurses that are compassionate, that understand the local community and how that relates to national and global issues,” she said. “This is not just a task-oriented profession. It is much deeper than that.”

Many of the students continue to volunteer at their original spots, and some also turn up at other nonprofit opportunities.

Westgate is organizing financial aid seminars for students. She invited high school and community college students to her first seminar in November and plans three more workshops.

“I know what a burden it is to pay for college,” she said. “It feels really great to help people out with that.”

Students recently recruited 76 potential bone-marrow donors for the Be the Match, a national registry of bone marrow donors to help those in need of marrow transplants. Westgate passed out fliers, and the nursing students held a registration event at the college on Nov. 19.

Westgate and other nursing students have worked for Portland’s Blanchet House, which operates a feeding program and transitional shelter for men. MHCC nursing students volunteer at Medical Teams International and get a feel for some of the world’s most serious medical challenges.

Students help out with health-related tasks at Head Start centers, with senior citizens and homeless people. “We do height, weight and vision screenings at Head Start,” said nursing student Rachael Smith. The nursing students provided gifts for 50 kids though the Head Start facility on the MHCC campus this Christmas.

The students do foot care for senior citizens, who have a difficult time cutting their nails and keeping their feet healthy.

The community pays taxes and supports the nursing school in other ways, Smith noted. Part of the students’ motivation is to honor that support by giving back to the community.

“It is something we enjoy doing,” she said. “It’s not like it’s a burden or something we are forced to do.”

Anthony concurred.

“I am so impressed with how many things our students get involved in,” she said. “And the benefits to the neighborhood are immense.”