Growing up, I was involved in many activities in my community, one of which included my church’s youth group. Throughout the year, we helped the community by participating in tasks such as bell ringing around the holidays to help people in need, and in return, the community supported us for our annual mission trips. From experiences like these, I have come to realize the importance of giving back to communities I am involved in, and I made doing so a priority when I got to Hope College.
I searched for places in which I could volunteer and give back to the community that I knew would come to support me during my time at Hope. I specifically chose the Holland Free Health Clinic, as I am passionate about the medical field and touching lives of those who otherwise would not have received any care.
The Holland Free Health Clinic is a non-profit organization that is able to provide medical services to those that are uninsured and under the poverty line. I reached out to see if they had any opportunities for me to volunteer during my first year at Hope, and now spend a few hours per week volunteering at the clinic. There are many different services offered, some of which include vision, dental, podiatry, hearing, counseling, and diabetic education. The clinic is volunteer-based, with many of the volunteers being Hope students. I have learned that communication is crucial to make sure each volunteer is on the same page with any changes or actions the clinic is making. My role at the clinic is to make flowcharts for each program in order to make sure all programs are meeting their expectations and that everyone is on the same page. Ultimately, this best serves our patients, which is always the main goal of a healthcare setting. These flowcharts then help to discover new ways in which each program can improve to be as efficient and professional as possible.
Going beyond being passionate about the medical field and wanting to give back to the community, one of the other major reasons I chose to spend time volunteering at the Holland Free Health Clinic is because of the importance of annual appointments to manage diseases, that can lead to having effects on all systems of the body if uncontrolled, such as diabetes. Many of our patients are not aware of the effects that systemic diseases, such as diabetes, can have on the rest of your body. I enjoy being able to help educate and inform our patients of the necessary actions they should partake in, in order to best take care of themselves so diseases do not get out of hand.
Lastly, the impact we have on our patients is incredibly meaningful in their lives. The joy seen from receiving any kind of care, whether it is dental work, a new pair of glasses, or support, is displayed on their faces, and makes any hard work on our end, very worth it. I have now been a volunteer here for one year, and I look forward to continuing to make an impact and touch people’s lives in the community that has already had a large impact on me.