Summer Youth Volunteer Program (SYVP) 2020 - Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center


Summer Youth Volunteer Program (SYVP) 2020

We are pleased to invite any student, aged 14 to 18, to participate in VA’s Summer Youth Volunteer Program, which was designed to create volunteer and learning opportunities for younger volunteers with the purpose of introducing students to the VA Health Care System and our mission of serving Veterans.

This year, as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, our 2020 program will be offered virtually and will engage participants in volunteerism projects that will result in practical initiatives that we hope to implement in our Voluntary Service programming.  The work will be challenging, but the pay-off will be rewarding!  And, most participants should leave this year’s program with enough hours to compete for the $20,000 James H. Parke Memorial Scholarship!

SYVP will start July 6, 2020 and run through August 14, 2020. Due to the abbreviated 6-week timeline, we will only be selecting 10 students to participate this year and we ask that interested candidates are able to volunteer between 10-20 hours PER WEEK.

This year’s interview process is quite different; therefore, please thoroughly review the instructions before submitting your application.  Please take note of the deadlines and instructions as we will NOT accept any late submissions.

The Application Process:

  1. All interested candidates should create a YouTube Video and submit a publicly available link to VHACHAVAVS@VA.GOV no later than 5 p.m. Friday, June 5 for initial consideration.  (See “YouTube Video Topic and Instructions” section for additional information.)
  2. Based on the video submissions, our team will choose 15 students to move forward in the interview process.  These interviews will be conducted via Zoom and held between June 15-24.
  3. After the interviews, our team will choose 10 candidates to participate in this year’s SYVP.  Chosen candidates will be notified of their selection no later than Friday, June 26.
  4. All selected candidates must participate in mandatory online orientation on Wednesday, July 1, from 10 a.m. – noon OR THEY WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS YEAR’S SYVP.
  5. The SYVP program will start July 6, 2020 and run through August 14, 2020. (Participating Youth will be invited to attend our Volunteer Awards Banquets, which will be held August 18-25, 2020.)

You Tube Video Topic and Instructions:

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Voluntary Service has been working with other areas of the hospital, our Community Clinics, and our Volunteers to create virtual opportunities to keep our Veteran patients, who are in the hospital or staying at home, connected with friends, family and community.

We know that Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook, Skype and other online tools can facilitate connectedness. But we’ve discovered that there is a great DIGITAL DIVIDE and many of our Volunteers and Veterans are uncomfortable using these platforms. 

This year’s Summer Youth Volunteer Program is aimed specifically at breaking down these barriers and figuring out ways to Bridge This Gap! 

Here are our three biggest challenges:

Our Volunteers want to PROVIDE virtual programs, such as online yoga classes or coffee talks, but they are not comfortable setting up and running a Zoom. Skype or Facebook Portal meeting.  
Our Veterans want to PARTICIPATE in this type of online programming but, like our Volunteers, are uncertain about using Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and Facebook Portal platforms. 
Given social distancing and other considerations, we can’t offer in-person training classes to help our Veterans and Volunteers learn, and it’s difficult to offer online training classes because they are not comfortable with these platforms.  

Here’s the topic we will be working on during SYVP:

How do we overcome these obstacles, and provide ways for our Volunteers and Veterans to be comfortable in using these platforms so that we may expand our Virtual Volunteering opportunities?

In a YouTube Video that is NO LONGER THAN 2 MINUTES, convince us that YOU are the right person to help us with this topic.  We REALLY want to be able to use YOUR ideas, creativity and tech genius to close the Digital Divide and overcome these challenges! In your video, make sure you:

  • Introduce yourself;
  • Tell us your virtual strengths (i.e. what online platforms you understand, excel at using, like to use etc.);
  • Give us one idea on how you would address at least one of the challenges mentioned above;
  • Provide an example of a final product you could create and submit to our team that could be implemented to keep YOUR program / idea / initiative going once you leave us at the end of this 6-week period; and
  • Let us know WHY you want to volunteer with the VA and work specifically on THIS project.

We are looking for creativity, thoughtfulness, a sense of realism and thoroughness as you cover all five of these bullet points AND address ways you would contribute to the main topic.

Upload your video to your YouTube account and send us the link: VHACHAVAVS@VA.GOV.  Be sure you email us your video link no later than Friday, June 5 at 5 p.m. or we won’t be able to consider you for this year’s SYVP! 

Questions or Concerns:

If you have any questions or concerns, or if you wish to compete / participate but do not have the hardware to connect online, please email Voluntary Service at VHACHAVAVS@VA.GOV or give us a call at (843) 789-7230 so we can help you figure out a solution.