Volunteer with TeleHealth Access for Seniors

We have amazing students at the University of Vermont who get involved in some wonderful organizations. This month we’d like to introduce you to Mimi Hsu, a senior, who has found a creative and impactful way to volunteer despite pandemic. Learn about the organization she has  joined, Telehealth Access for Seniors. This  new non-profit, founded earlier this year by students at Yale University, has already made a palpable difference.

  • Meet Mimi Hsu (she/her) ‘21
    • Major: Biochemistry
    • Career Goal: Unsure exactly what but knows she is interested in the healthcare field.  Considering going to PA school.
    • How did you become a volunteer for TeleHealth Access for Seniors? She heard about it through the Pre-health listserv and emailed the volunteer coordinator
    • What is TeleHealth Access for Seniors?
      • Given COVID-19, most medical practices have switched to a telehealth model where doctors connect with patients via video chat. Unfortunately, many elderly, low-income patients lack the camera-enabled devices necessary to attend these appointments. To help solve this problem, we collect old smartphones, tablets, and laptops for elderly patients so they can receive care for chronic conditions while avoiding the risk of infection. We also provide remote tech support and easy-to-use guides for how to set up devices, FaceTime, and various telehealth apps. We currently have a volunteer network of about 300+ students across the country and have donated 1860 devices and raised $80,000+.
      •  Volunteers coordinate with their state team to spread the word and seek device donations through social media, service organizations, news outlets, etc. Additionally, volunteers help collect, reset, and sanitize the devices at their homes before sending them to their local clinic or VA. We also ask volunteers to participate in weekly meetings with their state team.
  • Mimi’s responsibilities as a student volunteer
    • Mimi was recently promoted to become a Vermont State Lead for the organization. This means she is now helping with volunteer recruitment and doing more administrative tasks. Prior to being a state lead, she dabbled in many different tasks. She learned how to write grants and dabbled in alumni outreach as well as tech support. There are also some fundraising options for students to help out with, but Mimi personally has not had much involvement in that. The volunteers generally pick up donated devices or organize drop off centers for people to donate devices. Overall, Mimi says there are a lot of different tasks you can choose to do and it is up to you, as the volunteer, to choose which ones you would like to focus on.
    • Mimi’s favorite & least favorite part about working for organization
      • Favorite Part: Mimi feels that this organization has allowed her to meet many people in the state of Vermont. Especially, with COVID, she has enjoyed the constant social interaction that this organization has.
      • Least Favorite Part: At the beginning she felt a little lost because this position requires a lot of self-motivation. It is a type of volunteer position where no one is going to hold your hand and tell you want to do. However, there are plenty of resources and people willing to help and teach you, you just have to ask!
    • The Time Commitment
      • According to Mimi, the time commitment is up to you. You set your hours. However, she generally devotes 5-10 hours a week to the organization.
    • How has this experience impacted her?
      • Between doing this and volunteering at 2 homeless shelters Mimi has begun to form strong ties with the Vermont community. She definitely believes that her networking skills/her ability to form long-lasting relationships with others have grown exponentially since starting the position. She also has realized how close the Community Health Centers work with low-income and seniors to provide adequate care. All her experiences within the organization have been positive. Mimi encourages that anyone interested joins since it is such a rewarding experience.
    • Additional things to know if you’re considering joining
      • YOU DO NOT NEED A CAR: Mimi stresses that a lot of people are hesitant to join because they feel they need a car to go pick up donated devices. She says a lot of pick up points are in a biking or walking distance.
    • Want to Join?
      • Things have slowed down since high school student volunteers are back in school and have less time on their hands. The organization is actively seeking student volunteers. If students are interested in joining Mimi and the rest of the Telehealth access volunteers, they can contact the volunteer coordinator Abe at abe.baker-butler@telehealthforseniors.org and mention that they found out about the program through Mimi Hsu.
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