Blackfalds teen honoured for caring spirit, hard work

Santera Ogles a friendly, helpful volunteer at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre

Ever since Grade 5, Santera Ogles has wanted to be a social worker. Now in Grade 11, she’s well on her way and is already being recognized for her caring spirit, demonstrated through fundraising for various causes, teaching younger students new skills and helping patients at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre (RDRHC).

The Blackfalds teen has received the Soroptimist International of Central Alberta’s Violet Richardson Award for her volunteer work, including her many hours at RDRHC, where she delivers floral arrangements, helps organize wheelchairs and checks oxygen tanks in acute care units.

“I always wanted to be someone who helps others, especially when I see there’s opportunity to help,” says Ogles, 16. “The smallest things to you can be what turns someone’s day or life around.”

It’s this positive attitude that inspired her to raise and donate $504 to the Safe Harbour Society, a non-profit organization that connects vulnerable community members with much-needed services. She’s putting the $500 cheque that comes with her award toward her education.

The Soroptimists are a global women’s organization that offers resources and opportunities for women and girls to realize their goals and contribute to society. Locally, the organization bestows the award each year to deserving youth who make their communities a better place.

“Santera, who has been a dedicated hospital volunteer for the past three years, is an extremely worthy candidate for this honour,” says Darci Shave, Volunteer Resources coordinator. “She embodies the spirit of volunteerism in everything she does.”

Ogles started volunteering at the Blackfalds public library in 2015. Just a few months in, she already knew volunteering was something she enjoyed doing. In 2017, she took her first position with the Volunteer Resources team at RDRHC, visiting with patients in acute care, refilling water and helping with various non-clinical duties.

“I enjoy visiting with patients because they’re in hospital, and I make them smile and boost their day. It’s pretty cool,” says Ogles.

“Besides having to know my way around the hospital, I’ve learned that there are different ways of doing things, and we have to adapt to what we’re normally used to, while getting our work done and meeting patients’ needs.”

Through a program offered at her school, Ogles also spends lunch doing crafts with children at an elementary school in Lacombe a few times a week.

“I started in November, and I participate during a free period. The goal is to help the younger students with problem-solving skills and communication,” adds Ogles.

Her communications skills extend to social media. Through these networks, Ogles was able to donate $504 to the Safe Harbour Society by selling handmade bracelets. She also used social media to encourage Red Deer, Lacombe and Blackfalds residents to donate warm winter clothing to the agency.

She values working with people she likes because, as she says, they make work fun.

“The Volunteer Resources coordinators are awesome and make it easy for us to do the work, and I enjoy working with my volunteer partner.”

“I was surprised to get the award and the scholarship. My application was pretty diverse because of my different volunteer experiences. I felt really good to be chosen as a person who’s doing good work in the community.”

By Yolanda Genu

Photo: Santera Ogles, 16, has been recognized with a Soroptimist award for her volunteer work at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and service to her community. Her dream is to become a social worker.
(Photo supplied)