Palm Harbor, Florida - "Hospice is my happy place," says Bansi Savla, a 17-year-old teen volunteer. Suncoast Hospice is her haven. The Palm Harbor University senior has given 350 hours of her time volunteering the last two years and has loved every minute.
"Being there for them, to talk to them is an amazing experience for me. I can share their memories, their pain, their happiness... that kind of bond is irreplaceable," says Bansi.
"Bansi makes a difference with everyone she meets," says Suncoast Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Kathi Wendt. Bansi volunteers in the office weekly, but Wendt says Bansi does her best work with patients.
"She also volunteers with Lifetime Legacies, in which she interviews and films patients about their life story. She participates in Party Pal, goes to patients homes and celebrates special occasions with them," says Wendt. She adds, "Bansi's sense of optimism is out of this world. Her glass is always half full, never half empty."
Wendt says while some volunteers are motivated by their service requirements for school Bansi is not. "For her it's not about that it has always been about giving of herself unconditionally without hesitation she is a superb volunteer," says Wendt.
She's such an outstanding volunteer, the Suncoast Hospice chapter named her Teen Volunteer of the Year, last year and in October she received national recognition from Hospice. She was awarded the Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Award in San Diego, an award Bansi says she shares with all volunteers.
"If we can make one patient smile, reflect on their lives, have happy stories, that's the biggest gift that's the difference we make as a group. Not just one person, one volunteer. It's a group effort," says Bansi.
The teen says Hospice is a place to celebrate life. Bansi says, "It's a place of comfort. For me when I'm there, I can make other people happy and that makes me the happiest of all."
Bansi plans on becoming a doctor. She says her work with Hospice patients and families will make her a more compassionate doctor one day.