United Way Volunteers of the Year: This is the first in a six-part series featuring the Volunteer Activities Committee’s Volunteers of the Year.
When Carol Cox’s husband died unexpectedly last August, she was hesitant about continuing as a volunteer at St. Joseph Hospital.
But Kokomo High School student Brittany Edwards stepped forward to alleviate her fears.
Despite the difference in ages, the two have bonded. This becomes evident the longer one watches them interact. There are smiles and laughter in abundance.
Edwards, 17, started volunteering her time every Monday at the hospital a year ago. She now donates her time twice per week to be Cox’s volunteer partner.
Edwards is a nominee for Youth Volunteer of the Year with the United Way of Howard County. She has worked almost 260 hours during the past year.
“We trained Brittany and her friend (Whitney Henderson),” Cox said. “They started working with us.”
When Phil Cox passed away, Edwards volunteered to work with his widow on Wednesday.
Through their volunteer work at the hospital Edwards and Cox now consider each other “Best Friends Forever.”
“She’s a very dedicated, super young girl,” Cox said of Edwards. “There is a lot of age difference between us, it’s just amazing how close we’ve become ... I’m like a grandmother to her. We talk about everything. I see the closeness she has with her family and grandmother.”
Cox said Edwards can talk to her about her late husband without making her cry.
“We’re talking about an old friend,” she said. “Brittany will remind me of things Phil did to make us laugh.”
Edwards said she decided to volunteer a second night because Coxes were gracious enough to train her as a volunteer.
“I wanted to help Carol through the hard times,” she said. “Phil always made you laugh. I’ve loved every minute of it ... Carol is lovable, caring and has a generous heart. When I was learning she was very understanding.”
Edwards learned about the hospital through an explorers program that exposes teenagers to the different units of St. Joseph.
Her duties include wheeling patients from the lobby to their rooms, delivering food trays, answering the telephone and running errands for the nurses.
A member of the National Honor Society, Edwards is also a part of the Mayor’s Youth Council on Substance Abuse Prevention, plays percussion in the band and is a Girl Scout.
Edwards plans to attend the University of Cincinnati after high school graduation and to make a career of the medical profession.
“This is a good learning experience,” she said of volunteering at St. Joseph Hospital.
The daughter of Roger and Christy Edwards, she has a sister, Amy, 14, who also wants to volunteer at the hospital.
“They were surprised when I took a second day,” Edwards said of her parents. “This will be really good for college.”