Emily Kim

High school student Emily Kim balances volunteering and studies

Story and photos by Francesca D’Urzo, Carlmont High School
June 2020

Emily sitting by the bed of a patientEmily Kim, a junior at Carlmont High in Belmont, has volunteered at Mission House for over a year.

“I discovered the opportunity to work at hospices during my sophomore year. Deciding to apply for a volunteer position definitely shaped my passion for medical care and has positively changed my perspective on the concepts of life and death,” Emily says.

“Being the youngest and only high school volunteer was definitely a challenge at first,” Emily says, “but getting the opportunity to work hand in hand with some of the most highly trained nurses and health specialists in the area has been invaluable.”

As a volunteer, Emily helps the nurses at the hospice house with patient care, including feeding patients and keeping them company.
“What I adore about the Mission Hospice program and staff is that they treat every patient with respect and preserve their humanity,” Emily says.

Laura Paniagua, a Mission Hospice nurse, says, “I have been working alongside Emily for a majority of her time as a volunteer, and I am beyond impressed with her dedication to the work. Seeing the way she treats our patients with such gentle love and care at such a young age gives me hope for the future.”

Mission Hospice Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Pasternak says, “Our job as a hospice staff is to provide patients with the opportunity to fulfill their own meaning in life, as well as to celebrate their humanity. And to see a junior in high school already spreading awareness and embodying this message is truly inspiring to me.”

Emily says that Mission Hospice gave her a new outlook on life.“Coming in to volunteer every weekend and seeing all of the families interacting with their loved ones in the hospice home has made me appreciate my life so much more,” Emily says. “Being able to put a smile on a patient’s face is the most warm and rewarding feeling I have ever felt.”

“Volunteering with Mission Hospice is definitely what I look forward to most at the end of every week. My dream is that I will hopefully attend a college close-by so I can stop by to help whenever I can because the staff and some of the patients have become a second family to me,” Emily says. “This program has truly taught me to cherish the little moments in life.”


This article is excerpted from the original, which was published in the March 2020 issue of The Scot Scoop, the student newspaper for Carlmont High in Belmont.