Caldwell Hospice VolunTEENs Promote Breast Cancer Awareness

LENOIR, NC (October 21, 2019) — Visitors to the McCreary Cancer Center, the Wig Bank and Carolina Oncology this month will be treated to pink pretzels complements of some South Caldwell High School students. Caldwell Hospice VolunTEENs and members of the South Caldwell High School VolunTEEN Club have been making the pretzels since late September and will continue through October, replenishing supplies at each location.

Left to right: Ashleigh Holman, Makalyn Benge, Catherine Haynes, and Diana Obando

The project began in 2013 as a way to recognize October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Six years and more than 10,000 pretzels later, it remains a big hit with both the givers and the receivers of this unique project.

“Our community partners and their patients seem to really appreciate the hard work that our VolunTEENs put into the pretzels every year,” says Brittany Bonn, clinical liaison for Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care.

Crystal Burch, Hospice volunteer support specialist, says this project is just one of many the teens are involved with throughout the year.

“Our VolunTEENs are great…and serve in so many ways,” she said. “They visit Caldwell Hospice patients and residents at area long-term-care facilities and patients at our patient care units. They work on special projects, help with clerical assignments or participate in our annual children’s grief camp.”

VolunTEEN training is held each spring. To be selected for the VolunTEEN program, high school students must complete an application and interview process. Only 25 are accepted for the program annually.

For the teens, volunteering with Caldwell Hospice is rewarding and an opportunity to gain valuable experience.

“I am interested in pursuing a career in nursing, and this gives me great exposure to that environment,” explains senior Makalyn Benge of the South Caldwell High School VolunTEEN Club.

Ashleigh Holman, a Caldwell Hospice VolunTEEN and a junior at South Caldwell, has a personal reason for wanting to be involved. “Caldwell Hospice has cared for a lot of my family members. I feel this is a way to give back,” she adds.

To learn more about volunteering at Caldwell Hospice through this special program, visit or contact Crystal Burch at 828-754-0101.