Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Volunteer Philosophy

By Sasha B. Bard, MSN (Dietetic Intern)

I’ve always had a philosophy that it is good to live in a place where other people vacation. Washington, DC, for example, is host to visitors from all over the world, every single day. This is one reason that I feel fortunate to call it home.

1st philosophy: It is good to live in a place where other people vacation.

I recently started thinking that a similar principle could be applied to employment and I developed a new philosophy.

2nd philosophy: It is good to work at a place where other people volunteer.

The idea came to me while completing my community rotation at Food & Friends. Food & Friends is a non-profit organization that provides nutritional counseling and delivers meals and groceries to men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging illnesses. Food & Friends was started in 1988 with the support of 20 volunteers. In 2011, they estimated to have 11,000 volunteers.

I was amazed by the number of volunteers that I saw filter through the facility during my two-week rotation. In addition to the long-term volunteers, some who have been working at Food & Friends for more than two decades, groups of volunteers from all over the country came to lend a hand. This month is an especially busy season for volunteers because college students come to DC on “alternative spring break” trips. I had the privilege of working with students from Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee during my last week at Food & Friends. Everyone came with a smile and a good attitude. And thanks to many hands, the work was a breeze.

One of the staff members at Food & Friends told me that groups of volunteers schedule to come help up to a year in advance. Unfortunately, they even have to turn away volunteers at times because there is such high interest. This is what prompted my new theory; it must be great to work at a place where so many people eagerly work for free. How will this new theory affect my job search? We shall see! The end of the internship is fast approaching...

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