Bay Pines VA needs volunteers to fill many rolls across our health care system. No one understands the importance of this role better than Center for Development and Civic Engagement specialist Edgardo Solivan.
Solivan started his VA journey in the Technical Career Field Trainee Program. The program is a two-year internship that places individuals in critically identified positions throughout VA.
“I’ve been doing this since 2008. It’s been a rewarding experience,” Solivan said. “After my two years of training, I stayed here at Bay Pines VA in Voluntary Service.”
As one of the members in the Center for Development and Civic Engagement (CDCE), formerly known as Voluntary Service, Solivan is responsible for facilitating many of the behind-the-scenes activities that contribute to Veterans having a positive experience while at Bay Pines VA.
Over 700 volunteers at Bay Pines VA
“CDCE is responsible for many things. We train new volunteers. We conduct volunteer outreach and we manage the receipt of donations from our generous community partners,” said Solivan (in the center in the picture above) who stressed that without our volunteers, often overlooked elements of a Veteran’s health care experience would not be easily fulfilled. In FY23, Bay Pines VA was privileged to have more than 700 volunteers provide support.
“We have volunteers who drive the golf carts that pick up Veterans and carry them from the parking lots to their destinations. We have volunteers at the help desk in the hospital, the Community Living Center, Hospice and many more places. We also have them helping with receiving and distributing donations,” he added.
Gratifying to the volunteer as well as the Veterans
The volunteers come from all areas of the community and represent a variety of professions, physical abilities, age groups, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
“I’ve had all types of people ranging from CEOs to retired Veterans come through here to donate their time. Each one has their own reason why they want to volunteer,” he said.
Some of the benefits associated with volunteer work include improved health, letters of recommendation, training opportunities and eligibility for scholarships offered by service organizations and VA.
“Volunteering is a healthy way of giving back to the Veterans who gave so much to us. It’s very gratifying to the volunteer as well as the patients, families, visitors and caregivers.”