Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Friendship Through Volunteering

Name: Michelle Gehman
From: Ephrata, Pennsylvania
Grade: Senior in high school
School: Ephrata High School
Votes: 16

To me, volunteering is not just something that needs to get done for
graduation, but it is something that gives me the chance to put a
smile on a person’s face because they know someone truly cares.

My area of volunteer work is mostly with people who are diagnosed with
diabetes. I chose this area because my mother is a highly skilled but
very compassionate dietitian. She started many programs to help her
diabetes patients have a network to other diabetics or dietitians.
This area has become important to me because of my mother’s strong
and positive influence on wanting to help.  

Over the past four years I have volunteered throughout the months doing
different things. I started out helping with the annual Diabetes Day
event which happens in November. My responsibilities for this event
were to check in the visitors, inform them about Diabetes Day and the
events happenings. Other small tasks included making sure the food
was set up, helping any of the visitors find anything, help the rest
of the volunteers, hand out raffle tickets and prizes, and make the
environment bright and cheerful.

I have also participated in Diabetes Support Groups. This is a group of
diabetics that get together at least once a month and go on an
“excursion”. They have the chance to talk freely to other
diabetics, nurses, dietitians, or a fitness trainer to ask for help
or advice. The responsibilities that go with this particular
volunteering experience are similar to those of the Diabetes Day
event. I was held accountable for the well-being of the group and I
was there as a friend for many of them to talk to. I was also
responsible for taking pictures and making sure everyone felt
included.


My biggest challenge being a volunteer in this area was relating. I,
fortunately, do not have diabetes therefore it makes it hard for me
to completely relate to the people that do. To me it feels like it
limits how I can help them, but I think they view it as if I am
another friend. Getting the chance to be a friend to many new and
different people is the most satisfying feeling that has come out of
volunteering. The most important lesson I have learned throughout my
volunteering experiences is that you don’t have to be a rocket
scientist to be able to help people. I hope to take what I have
learned and the experiences I have gained and put them into action in
the future. I want there to be a change in the overall fairness of
the medical world. I strive for that difference between just a
patient and a doctor, but two friends figuring out a problem
together. I would be ecstatic to see the progress of the Diabetes
Center and the diabetes support groups twenty or thirty years from
now. I truly hope that my volunteer activities have made a difference
in the community. Volunteering is the opportunity to be a friend.


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