Saturday, April 21, 2012

Volunteering - Just Do It

You know I love "my" 9HealthFair.  It's an amazing community-based health fair that helps approximately 95,000 people annually in Colorado. 

The 9HF is always an amazing source of stress for me because I invest so much time and effort into it.  Each year from February until the end of April, my life revolves around the 9HF.  I spend every Saturday in February and most of March training RN students to do phlebotomy, holding community refresher courses, and - of course - training my own students.  The RN student coordinator estimated that I've trained almost 500 RN students over the past five years.  All of those RN students are spread throughout the Northern Colorado fairs.  Northern Council is the only council that doesn't face a shortage of volunteers, phlebotomy or otherwise, which makes me so happy to live here, where so many  people are willing to volunteer their time to help others in their community.  Working with the 9HF is the reason why I'm pursuing my Master's in Public Health - with such an amazing model to follow, how could I not?

All of the stress and loss of weekends pays off once April begins - that's when my RN "chillins" are sent out into the real world to ply their trade and practice on real patients.  They are out of the nest and it's up to them to fly - it's hard, because I can't be at all of the fairs with them, though I desperately want to be.

My MA students, who I have for twenty months over the course of their program, really do become surrogate children and I'm so proud of all of those who worked this weekend.  They put in long hours without complaint, went out of their way to help wherever they were needed, and in general made everyone's life easier.  For many of my students, this is their first time volunteering; they've never felt the joy of helping other people out just for the sake of it.  I hope it becomes a life-long habit for them like it has for some of my grads.

I had four of my MA grads who are currently working in the field come back as proctors to help the new students and they were amazing. The two grad on the left are working multiple fairs this year.

Grads (L -> R) 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2011

I even have some of my grads who are part of the "core team" that travels from fair to fair helping out all of the new students.
Our core team:
the four blue shirts immediately around me are my grads,
the one to the left of the green shirt is an adopted grad.

I hear over and over again from their site coordinators how wonderful it is to have the students at their fairs - that the students are always professional, friendly, and willing to help wherever they are needed.  I can't take any credit for that - it's who the students are - but it makes me happy that those students will soon be working in medicine "for real" and I hope that their attitudes never change, that they will always face their career with the joy and sense of wonder with which they face their volunteerism.

My actual children, Digger, Ashinator, and Monster, have all volunteered at the 9HealthFair and for our local fire department's Public Education department.  We started volunteering because I could never afford to donate money.  My apologies, I have some amazing pre-digital pictures of the kids working the 9HF, but, of course, I can't find them.
Monster, Digger, Ashinator
2008 FlameOut5K race

We even got their friends in on it.
This year, even Autobot got into it.  Last year, she and Kyzzer helped behind the scenes with set-up of the phlebotomy area, but this year Nebalee and Mr. Nebalee agreed that she could skip school to come work the actual fair.  She put in about twelve hours of volunteer time over three days.

Giving kids clothes and food is one thing but it's much more important to teach them that other people besides themselves are important, and that the best thing they can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people.  Dolores Huerta

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.  Margaret Mead


Rico Kennedy said...

First you guilt me into blogging, then you guilt me into volunteering!? Okay, as soon as I have a free day, I will spend the day at Habitat for Humanity, deal?

Rachel said...

This is one of the reasons I admire you so much - you really do care about others.

There is such a gift in having compassionate kids!