“To lend to those less fortunate a helping hand” – That is the first line of my sorority, Phi Mu’s, creed, and also a line that I have strived to incorporate into my daily life. Last summer, I became the first recipient of a special Communications scholarship called the Dan R. Ison Scholarship, and the only requirement to hold this wonderful scholarship is to participate in volunteer service. I did a couple volunteer projects throughout this past school year, but I wanted to make sure that my donors felt like they were truly getting their money’s worth in my volunteer efforts. I wanted to make them proud in knowing that I was the right candidate. In order to do that, and also hold the line of my creed true, I decided to become a shift volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Louisville. Yesterday, I had my first (of two) shadow shifts before I become an official volunteer there. Let me tell you the story of how it went:
After fifteen minutes of driving around 1st Street downtown, frantically trying to find dinner before my shift, I gave up and walked in to the Ronald McDonald House a bit earlier than I was needed to. I ended up talking with the evening manager, trying to find a vending machine or something to keep me full during my shift, and was told that dinner was going to be served in a couple minutes and could help myself. I was thrilled to hear that, so made my way through the building – I had never been there before – and found myself wandering in the kitchen. This house is filled with wonderful stories.
I was able to speak with one of the ladies who was preparing dinner… come to find out, the group of women who were making last night’s dinner come in and participate in the “Adopt-A-Meal” program and cook dinner for the RMHC guests three Wednesdays a month! And, they had been doing this for 14 years! The lady I spoke with told me that once you start volunteering at RMHC, you get “hooked” and never want to leave. And surprisingly enough, I could definitely agree with her. She encouraged me to get dinner and sit with one of the families dining there, so I thought “why not?” The best way to immerse yourself in something new is to dive right in.
And I sure dove right on in: I was able to sit with a family who had a preteen daughter going through chemotherapy and didn’t have any hair on her head. I am lucky and blessed to say that I have not had to encounter many severely ill children in my lifetime, except for my six-year-old cousin Isaac who lost the battle to brain cancer five years ago. That was very rough to see, but taught me so much. Since then, this situation was the most recent time. It was definitely a moving experience that I didn’t prepare myself for. I found myself nervous… coming from someone who can start up a conversation with nearly anyone, I was anxious to start a conversation for fear of making them upset- that was the last thing I wanted to do. I know that ill children are just the same as any other child, but I could see how certain questions like “How are you doing?” may lead to a very sad answer. Being able to interact with the family has definitely motivated me to continue to help those families as much as I can.
After eating dinner, I was given a tour of the house and was able to shadow one of the volunteers as she did her evening duties, like cleaning up the rooms, making sure everything is fully stocked, and doing laundry. It was so nice to see how a community can come together to help those who are in need. The rooms are set up like hotel rooms and house visitors normally stay for 1-6 days, often because they are from a far distance away and have an early morning appointment. It was heart-warming to see how I can help those who I’m sure are exhausted from a long day at the hospital and just want to feel at home. RMHC does that exactly; it is such a comforting and welcoming place and gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling because you know you’re truly making a difference.
I’m looking forward to setting up my second (and last!) shadow session before I become a true and registered Shift Volunteer. I will be participating in at least one 3-hour shift a month, every month of the year. Just from being there once, I want to do as much as I can to help… it just draws you in! You never know, maybe I will get hooked :) If you are interested in joining me as a volunteer, feel free to check out their Volunteer page and see which option best fits your interests. There are a multitude of things you can do.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned to hear about my next shadow session!
Hope you all are having a relaxing summer- I finished The Hunger Games in two days and it was absolutely amazing. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to start the series… I couldn’t put the book down!
Song of the day: I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz (P.S. Totally just realized I put the same song on two different blog posts… oops!)