‘Teens in the House’ gives teens a perspective on nonprofit operation

Volunteers in a previous Teens in the House program bake cookies to share with SECU House guests.

‘Teens in the House’  gives teens a perspective on  nonprofit operation
April 28
13:15 2021

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

“This experience gave me exposure and insight into the different jobs that help the community and jobs inside the hospital, which is where I might want to work.”  

This comment by Sarah is just one of many shared by former teen volunteers that show the success of Teens in the House, a summer program of the SECU Family House. Over 145 students have completed the program since it began in 2015. The program has proved to be so popular that some students return the following year and recommend the program to their siblings and friends.

According to Lindley Curtis, volunteer and community relations coordinator for SECU Family House, “In the past, we’ve had four separate weeks of students being in person.” Last summer the pandemic forced the program to go on hiatus. “In 2020 we suspended Teens in the House entirely. We’re excited to offer this new hybrid experience this summer.”

Curtis added, “This program is especially worthwhile for students looking to explore the nonprofit world or healthcare careers.” Volunteering with Teens in the House gives students a behind-the-scenes look at these careers and what they offer as a career path for graduates.

During Teens in the House, middle and high school students will participate in service learning opportunities, learn about how a nonprofit works, and get an overview of local organizations. They will receive service kits to put together at home. The kits contain snacks and items that guests of SECU House would find helpful while visiting their loved ones at the hospital, such as a bottle of water, gum, lip moisturizer, Kleenex, fruit, puzzle books, pads and pens, or other items. 

The most special item is a personally written encouraging note tucked inside among the other goodies. Curtis said, “We get a lot of comments from our guests about how much it lifts their spirits to have this welcome bag to greet them when they arrive in their rooms.”  Curtis explained that it’s a simple but personal way to say “We’ve got your back” during a time of personal and emotional stress.

Students also prepare “grab-and-go” breakfast bags since indoor dining is closed due to COVID protocols. Since the teens are usually meeting during the day while guests are at the hospital, they often do not have face-to-face interactions with guests. Guests will, however, have an opportunity to share their stories with the teens via videos.

According to Curtis, this year’s hybrid model will have two groups of participants, one July 19-22 and one July 26-29, and will run from 10 a.m. until noon. Monday and Thursday will be in person at the SECU House and Tuesday and Wednesday will be at-home projects, online videos and articles to learn more about nonprofits, and Zoom meetings to offer students a chance to share their experiences with each other. Students earn eight service hours for completion of the Teens in the House program.

Registration is now open online at and the application deadline is May 31. The cost for the program is $50 and sponsorships are available. The SECU House is located at 1970 Baldwin Lane and is a home base for families and patients from North Carolina counties and other states who are in Winston-Salem for medical treatment, offering support for those facing the distress of a serious illness. They have welcomed more than 41,000 overnight guests since opening its doors in 2011. 

As a teen volunteer summed up her experience at the end of her program, “We heard a lot of stories and learned a lot of things that we don’t usually learn at school.”

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