For my Year of Service project, I served at two sites. The social justice issues that were connected to my service were health and food insecurity. At the beginning of this year, I began volunteering at the Wexner Medical Center as a University Ambassador. My role was to serve as a wayfinder for patients and visitors navigating the hospital. As a nursing major, volunteering at the hospital and gaining more exposure to communicating with patients and the healthcare environment was something that I was interested in since freshman year. I am happy that the Year of Service project has allowed me this volunteer opportunity right here at OSU. Additionally, through this past semester as part of the ESHESA 2751s course, I have been volunteering at NNEMAP food pantry. NNEMAP’s mission is to provide food to any and all in the Columbus area who meet the requirements. My role as personal shopper was to go through the pantry with the clients and make sure they get the correct amount of the foods they need. I was a friendly face around the pantry and helped make the clients feel comfortable. Before my service at NNEMAP, I had never volunteered at a food pantry before, so I was very excited about this new experience.
In my role as a wayfinder at the Wexner Medical Center, I can definitely tell that I have grown in my service. I feel very confident in navigating the hospital and managing transportation of patients and visitors throughout the hospital. I can also answer a lot more of their questions they may have compared to when I first started. If I do not know the answer, I can direct them to the appropriate person. Most importantly, I have gained confidence in talking to strangers, oftentimes in hard situations. Patients and visitors may feel scared or anxious walking into this hospital, but I feel I have gained the skills necessary to meet their needs in hopes of making their visit just a little bit easier. The most valuable lesson I have learned from my service here is that a small act to you (such as getting a visitor to their destination) may seem big to someone else.
I have only been volunteering at NNEMAP since the beginning of the semester, but it has already had an impact on me. I have had the pleasure to serve so many different types of people at the food pantry and have had the opportunity to chat with a lot of them. People with all different backgrounds and situations come to the pantry to get food. For example, I met an OSU student who had a family at home that just needed some extra help at with groceries. All these interactions has broadened my understanding of service and shut down some of my wrongful misconceptions about those I serve. Sometimes, the language/communication barrier is a challenge. But this is a situation that will undoubtedly happen again (especially in my future career in nursing), so I am thankful for the opportunity to practice and build on my communication skills through my service.
This experience will definitely change how I serve others in the future. I believe that I will be more comfortable sparking up conversations with strangers and has given me a newfound genuine interest in other’s lives. I will look for the little things that may make a difference to others. The different interactions I have had with those I served at NNEMAP has shut down my prior understanding and misconceptions of those I serve. Anyone and everyone will need help in one way or another at some point in their lives. Through my year of service, I have learned that the small things make a difference, and the basis of service is using your talents, knowledge, or ability to help others who need it, whoever that may be.