StudentsCare is turning 10 this year! As StudentsCare celebrates 10 years of service, we take a moment to look back at how far our organization has come and the impact it has had on hospitalized children and isolated older adults throughout the United States.
In 2010, Erica Sokol Carroll was a student at the University of Florida, looking for volunteer experiences to prepare her for a career in healthcare. She started volunteering in the pediatric unit at her local hospital but found her volunteer time at the hospital was spent doing clerical tasks and not directly helping to meet the needs of patients, especially those children who she saw alone in the hospital week after week. Erica saw children and families in need of support and came up with a solution. She recruited her classmates and started a unique buddy program, in which herself and a handful of other students, were paired with children in the pediatric oncology unit and visited each week, sometimes even several times a week.
After participating in and directing this volunteer program for two years, and seeing its impact, Erica was eager to reach more patients and families. In September 2013, Erica established StudentsCare, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to help bring the buddy program to hospitals and college campuses across the country.
In 2015, Erica developed a business plan for StudentsCare while in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, and launched programs at Virginia Tech University, University of Miami, University of Pennsylvania, Michigan State University, University of Southern California and St. Louis University. Today there are 13 active chapters nationwide working towards making hospital stays brighter for children during difficult times.
StudentsCare has been a vital resource to the community for the last decade, adapting our programs as needed. In April 2020, we took it one step further and launched the Senior Buddy Program in response to older adults facing increased isolation due to pandemic-related restrictions on visitors at residential facilities. The program was an instant hit, quickly growing from its inception into seven partner facilities across the country by the end of 2022.
Throughout the years, StudentsCare has been able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of countless hospitalized children and isolated seniors across the country. We have worked hard to create a volunteer program that is both safe and meaningful to the communities they serve, while providing a powerful platform for college students to build their skills and gain real-world experience.
The 10th anniversary of StudentsCare is a time to reflect on the positive impact the organization has had, as well as to celebrate the hard work, dedication, and commitment of the volunteers who have made it all possible. As we look forward to the next ten years, we hope that StudentsCare will continue to grow connections and that more and more college students will join the cause.
Throughout 2023, we will be engaged in many activities to celebrate all the relationships that have gone into making StudentsCare a success over these past ten years…and to ensure our success will continue to grow for many years to come. Keep checking in and follow us on social media as we add stories to our blog, share information, celebrate, and announce unique opportunities to reaffirm your connection with StudentsCare.
Here’s to another ten years for StudentsCare!