Area youth make a difference in senior community

Maple Grove student is one of three to intern at St. Therese of New Hope

by Gina Purcell

Sun POST Newspapers

 

While many adolescents spend the summer enjoying the beach, sitting around late-night bonfires and hanging with friends, three area students have dedicated their summer to working at St. Therese of New Hope.

St. Therese, a faith-based senior care and housing organization, received six applications for the seasonal, paid internship. Of those six, three were chosen: Sidney McClellan, 16, of Plymouth; Renita Sebastin, 18, of Maple Grove; and Justin Qualseth, 20, of New Hope.

From left, Dustin Qualseth, 20, of New Hope, Sidney McClellan, 16, of Plymouth, and Renita Sebastin, 18, of Maple Grove, dedicate their summer to helping St. Therese of New Hope through an internship program.

From left, Dustin Qualseth, 20, of New Hope, Sidney McClellan, 16, of Plymouth, and Renita Sebastin, 18, of Maple Grove, dedicate their summer to helping St. Therese of New Hope through an internship program.

Each intern completes roughly 56 hours of work every two weeks at the organization’s New Hope location. The internship is more than a regular paycheck. It’s also a learning experience as the students are given the opportunity to meet with several departments within the facility. At each department the interns learn about career opportunities.

In addition to meeting with departments, the trio helps with bingo, reads to residents, spends time outdoors and socializes with residents, enters data and observes nursing and other staff.

Although this is not the first year St. Therese has provided the internship program, it is the first time in several years that it is being offered. According to Assistant Director of Nursing Long-Term Care Carmelle Hanson, the organization eliminated the internship program for a few years due to budget cuts.

The internship is a partnership between St. Therese and the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, Minnesota Department of Health.

“It’s a great opportunity for St. Therese and also the students in terms of just learning about health and departments that make up a nursing home,” Hanson said.

Meet the interns

Sidney is no stranger to the senior care facility. Her mother has worked at St. Therese for years, and Sidney recalls volunteering there when she was younger.

With a nudge from her parents to land a job and her connection with St. Therese, Sidney applied for the internship. She appreciates the opportunity.

Dustin Qualseth and Renita Sebastin, left, and Sidney McClellan, right, work on a puzzle with St. Therese resident Bette Martian, in purple. The three student interns enjoy getting to know the facility’s residents and bringing a smile to their faces. (Sun Post staff photo by Gina Purcell)

Dustin Qualseth and Renita Sebastin, left, and Sidney McClellan, right, work on a puzzle with St. Therese resident Bette Martian, in purple. The three student interns enjoy getting to know the facility’s residents and bringing a smile to their faces. (Sun Post staff photo by Gina Purcell)

“It helps me put into perspective that I can make a difference …,” she said.

Sidney’s favorite part of her internship experience thus far has been getting to know the residents by listening to their personal stories.

Approaching her junior year at Cedar Falls High School in Iowa, Sidney is not certain as to what career she plans to pursue but a senior housing facility or the health care field in general may not be out of the question.

Sebastin graduated from Maple Grove Senior High earlier this summer and will be attending the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities this fall where she plans to major in genetics.

She was in search of a job when she stumbled across St. Therese’s internship.

“I’ve been wanting to do something in health care,” she said.

With a grandma who recently passed away, Sebastin enjoys the opportunity to help the senior community any way she can.

“(My favorite part is) just being able to interact with people,” she said. “It’s really interesting (to learn their stories).”

Qualseth is approaching his junior year at Mankato State University. As an undecided major, he is using the internship as a way to narrow his interests. He is currently juggling the idea of social worker or health care services.

In addition to using the internship to his own benefit, he hopes to help to the senior community.

His time at St. Therese allowed him to feel more closely connected with his grandma who recently passed away as well.

“My favorite experience is that I can make people’s days,” he said. “You’ll just see that their facial expressions (become) happy.”

All interns enjoy having the ability to bring a smile to someone’s face each and every work day. The trio will work through mid-August before returning to school. It is an experience they say they are grateful for.

 

Contact Gina Purcell at gina.purcell@ecm-inc.com

 

 

 

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