For many high school students, volunteering is a fun thing to do. Olathe North High School senior Alexis Buff takes it to a whole new level.
Recently named Junior Volunteer of the Year by Shawnee Mission Medical Center, Alexis, 18, has devoted more than 1,100 hours to the hospital’s child care center over the last four years. In 2014 alone, she worked 427 hours at the hospital.
“I wanted to give back to community. It has been a blessing to me,” said Alexis, who lives in Olathe. “I make it a priority.”
When she started volunteering at the hospital in 2011, Alexis had planned to be part of the volunteer team at its pharmacy, but there weren’t any openings there. She took an assignment at the child care center and has remained in that department since then.
Her favorite part of the work, she said, is getting to bottle-feed the babies.
“I think she kind of found her niche there,” said Kim Buff, Alexis’ mother. “When she originally started, she was working one day a week, (then) in the summer, they said she could do more. … Even on spring break, she’ll go in on her days off.”
That kind of commitment stood out to her supervisors at the hospital.
“I’ve seen her in action in the child care center, and she is very hands-on,” said junior volunteer coordinator Cindy Cobb. “She works in the baby room. She changes diapers and rocks babies; she’s just an old hand at it. It’s kind of cute.”
When Shawnee Mission Medical Center looks for its junior volunteer of the year, personnel take into account recommendations from the departments, the number years of service, the hours a volunteer has spent working, reliability and dedication to the job.
In Alexis’ case, her nomination came from Adriana Ross, the child care center’s assistant director. She called Alexis “one of the most dedicated volunteers to ever work here” and someone who “quietly takes initiative to entertain the babies, sometimes three at a time.”
“She has a very positive attitude about everything. She’s so reliable. She’s been here for four years, and she rarely misses,” Cobb said. “Any day of the year, she offers to cover other people’s shifts. She makes our hospital be a top priority in her life. … She goes to school all day, then she comes here and volunteers in the evening.
Next year, Alexis plans to attend Johnson County Community College and hopes to become a physical therapist.