My name is Shayla Akamine. I hail from a city that everyone believes is just casino’s and hotels. About two years ago, I learned a lot in a short time that I didn’t expect to learn. You see, I volunteer at a local hospital. I spend my extra time there, rather than at home, writing up a book I hope to finish soon. At the hospital, I learned the importance of “teamwork” and kindness. You see, at a hospital, it isn’t the cleanliness of the floors, the taste of the cafeteria food, or even the kindness of the workers. Sometimes, the backbone of the hospital is actually the people who give up their free time to help others in need. There isn’t any competition to see who’s the best worker in Volunteer Services. It’s who can make you smile the widest that we compete for. But I don’t compete. I don’t even try. I just happily give my time to them. I’m always trying to be polite or try to find someway to make someone happy. But it wasn’t another volunteer or another worker who made me understand the importance and impact of what I was doing. I’m usually the one who goes to fetch wheelchairs and help discharge patients and move them. But I had a hard time with this one patient. His bed’s brakes were always on. They couldn’t move him from the bed because he was having a hard time getting up and down. So, I and another worker were preparing to move him. The worker said she wouldn’t be able to get a good grip on him and that I was in charge of him once he was more than halfway over. And it was. For me, I was easily overwhelmed by it. But after he was moved to a new bed, he thanked me. I had no after thought about it. The next day, when I came in, I was asked to go read to a patient because his family would be gone most of the day and being read to made it easy for him to fall asleep. I walked in, and, surprise surprise, he smiled at me and I sat on the edge of the bed. I told him I’d read to him and he was happy. I made up voices and accents and all kinds of things while I read him “The Hobbit”, one of his favorite books, and mine as well. He laughed and I was happy to have made him laugh. After he was asleep, I was back down in the main lobby. A few hours later, I was summoned up to his room. I thought I’d done something wrong, since I never get called up. I walked into his room, half expecting to get an earful. Instead, his family was sitting around him and they asked if I was responsible for his smile. I hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep with a grin, but I explained what had happened and they thought I was so nice to do so. I didn’t have anything against that, really. But when it came time for him to be discharged, I was the one he wanted to discharge him. He liked that I was so helpful and so nice. As I waited outside with him for his ride, he turned to me and said “That’s the first time someone’s read to me and made me laugh since I was a little boy. You really are a good storyteller. Thank you so much for the good time. I hope good things happen to you in the future.” It kind of hit me when he said that. All the times I helped people in and out of cars. All the times I helped people in wheelchairs. All the times I held the door open. It wasn’t all wasted for nothing. It was wasted on people who actually appreciated the effort, the spare second, and the quick smile of thanks. I learned form someone who didn’t even work at the hectic hospital that I volunteer in that I was doing something good. It was worth it to hear someone tell me that. It feels good to do something worthwhile for someone else, you know?

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