VOLUNTEERING THROUGH A PANDEMIC
After seeing her mom work in the health care field all her life and wanting to gain more volunteer hours, Amaya Leiby decided to volunteer at Legacy Mt. Hood Medical Center.
Her volunteer work became much more pivotal when the pandemic hit and hospitals worldwide overflowed.
“Not all units were accepting volunteers because of the danger of COVID,” Leiby said. “So, I was in the short stay unit.”
In her role, Leiby worked with short-stay nurses to discharge the patients undergoing minor procedures to help reduce overall exposure within the hospital.
Although not directly working with COVID patients, Leiby said that she was often near the intensive care unit that dealt with COVID patients and frequently saw some of the tragedies that the virus brought. The Gresham teen saw people dying alone, and nurses pushed past their breaking points.
“The family connection to the hospital is what brought me there initially, but it was really helping people especially during a time when COVID was really impacting the community that I lived in was what kept me there,” Leiby said.
Leiby said that her inspiration to go out and volunteer was her mom. “She is easily the most selfless person that I know and has brought me and my sister up with that mentality.”
From August 2020 through May 2021, Leiby volunteered at the hospital every Friday morning for four hours a day throughout her entire junior year. Despite not working in the COVID-specific section of the hospital, Leiby did say the extra work and precautions that needed to be taken because of COVID added more to her plate during her time there.
“There were a lot of little things that you don’t think about that get to you,” Leiby said. “All of the precautions from all the gloves we wore and even having to wash our hands after entering a new room was a lot to take into consideration.”
After finishing her time volunteering, Leiby said that what she learned the most from her experience was understanding the work and devotion healthcare workers give.
“I would say I really gained perspective during my time at the hospital,” Leiby said. “Just to be around the pain and suffering from patients and also the work from the nurses. You know (nurses) don’t work a typical office job and often have to give up time to work extended hours and sacrifice so much more then what people know about.”
With that in mind, Leiby said she has gained a new appreciation for the occupation and has learned to cherish her free time even more as she prepares for college.
Because of her work at the hospital, Leiby was awarded the Passion for Public Service Scholarship by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS). The scholarship recognizes students who have demonstrated a commitment to various forms of public service and are integral public servants in their everyday communities. Of the over 100 applicants, Leiby was one of five students selected to each be awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
On top of her volunteer work, Leiby was the team captain of the Barlow High School girls water polo team, which won state champions in both 2018 and 2021. Her prowess in water polo led her to be recruited by Arizona State University. She will also be attending the school’s honors college, where she hopes to double major in English and psychology and take a pre-law track.