Student climbs to top after starting as a volunteer

Senior Angie Brinkerhoff dedicates time to Hinsdale Hospital as an executive board volunteer.

courtesy of Angie Brinkerhoff

Senior Angie Brinkerhoff dedicates time to Hinsdale Hospital as an executive board volunteer.

The wind rushes through the heavy hospital doors, cold to the touch. The smell of hand sanitizer is pungent, but disperses once the students reach the main lobby. A high arching ceiling hovers over the lobby, making the teens look miniature. This vast amount of open space above is representative of their great potential, deriving from volunteering at Hinsdale Hospital.

After entering the familiar conference room, the select students take their seats. There are papers fluttering about, while the chatter from co-volunteers and the rustling of teens taking off their winter jackets fills the room. The clock hits four, and the Junior Executive Board is eager to begin discussing ideas for the main club meeting in an hour. Volunteers write pitched ideas with a squeaky marker on the white board. Others type vivaciously on the computer to make flyers for the next event.

Though this process may sound serious and intimidating, Angie Brinkerhoff, senior, always finds herself laughing, and having a fun time with her co-volunteers. She grabs a seat, and comfortably gets situated, thinking about what to do at the annual Ice Cream Social.

This is the day and the life of a volunteer at the Junior Executive Board at Hinsdale Hospital. This organization is led primarily by students in high school, sponsoring events or fundraisers for the hospital.
After spending time with friends and family, competitively dancing and studying in one weekend, Brinkerhoff still makes time to volunteer at Hinsdale Hospital, as the Communications Manager on the Junior Executive Board. This year, Brinkerhoff runs social media accounts for the organization, controlling what is posted to encourage participation in sponsored events.
Although she began at the bottom of the program just two years ago, she has climbed her way up to the position of Junior
Executive Board Member. She learns a lot in this experience and continues to grow as a person and leader.
In middle school, Brinkerhoff strived to be a neurologist. She excelled in science class and a math class. One day, at a local grocery store, a flyer caught her eye, announcing that the Hinsdale Hospital was open to volunteers. The opportunity was intriguing. She would be able to share her love of medicine with others.
The week after, Brinkerhoff pulled open the heavy doors of the hospital, stepped out of the elevator and through the doors of the modest conference room. Immediately she was overwhelmed. Board members presented her with four separate handouts, each providing different information on each part of the organization. She unknowingly signed up for leadership positions at unheard of events. Next was the dreaded “icebreaker”, in which everyone would say a little fact about themselves.
“I was a nervous freshman and I had to answer a silly “initiation” question like ‘Who is your favorite Disney Princess?’” Brinkerhoff said.
Brinkherhoff scanned the crowd of students before her. She recognized some familiar faces, which helped her get  comfortable in this new atmosphere.
As the year progressed, so did Brinkerhoff’s enjoyment for the organization. As a freshman, she helped with the annual Rotary Run, made blankets for NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and donated diapers for the Nurses’ Station. It was not until the Ice Cream Social that sparked potential for Brinkerhoff to become truly committed to the Junior Board.
On a Sunday, the fourth meeting of the Board, the president of the organization passed around a clipboard with a signup sheet for the upcoming Ice Cream Social. Brinkerhoff nearly snatched the clipboard from the boy on her right. There is was a blank space for the Head of the Ice Cream Social awaiting her name. She hastily wrote Angela Brinkerhoff.  Satisfied, she passed it to the next person.
Brinkerhoff described the Ice Cream Social as seemingly endless, but nevertheless fun and entertaining. She discovered an internal euphoric feeling associated with helping others. With this newly found ambition she sent in an application to the Administrators of the Board, requesting a position on the Executive Board.
It took a couple weeks, but one day, Brinkerhoff opened her mailbox to find a letter addressed to herself. She broke the seal, only reading the first words: “Congratulations”. She ran to her family to tell them the good news, and impatiently
awaited the next Junior Board Meeting.
Fast forward two years and Brinkerhoff has a solid position on the Executive Board. Her hands no longer sweat when speaking to large groups of people. She can instruct younger students without using “Um” and “if that’s OK with you”. She also devotes her time at the Board to capturing the everyday activities through pictures.
She posts such photos and organizes the Board’s social media on her own. Gabrielle Becka, a fellow volunteer at the Board describes Brinkerhoff as “responsible and reliable” leader.
“I’ve always looked up to Angie, especially now, since she has set such a good example on the Board,” Becka said.
Brinkerhoff has formed many friendships with her fellow volunteers. 
“The bonds made at the hospital are unbreakable,” Brinkerhoff said.
Although she does not want to pursue a medical career, Brinkerhoff has learned so much from participating in the Junior Board. She said she learned the value of community service. She has grown mature, and confident – two qualities that will bring her success in her future.