From Volunteer to Family
Have you ever just tried to Google “volunteer opportunities” for nurses? It’s amazing how few you can find that aren’t advertisements to go abroad or a plea for monetary donations. I searched for what seemed like months. I asked other nurses. I looked through web site after web site. I can’t even tell you how I finally stumbled upon Urban Ministries of Wake County… but that’s where my story begins.
After reading through the web site, I knew right away that this is where I wanted to be. First there was the application. Then there was the quickly filled orientations. The hardest part I can remember was waiting to be trained. It had to work out just right with the right volunteers and staff in order to on-board. From application to my first day in the Open Door Clinic took two months.
I committed myself to two shifts a week. My situation was unique where I had been a stay-at-home mom and full time online student. I had freedom to commit. It was my time to help my community while learning about public health and primary care. This was an investment in my heart and mind. But I wanted to learn more. I wanted to get to know our patients fully: their trials, their achievements, and their joy. I was a sponge.
It wasn’t long into this journey that the clinical director approached me about a grant position he was hoping to fill. I could barely keep my excitement contained when he mentioned what the goal of the role was. We wanted to grow. We wanted to meet the health needs of our community in a bigger way. It was everything I wanted to be involved in. “I” could make a difference.
Soon after accepting the position, my entire perspective shifted. I no longer looked at what I could contribute to this community. I realized that “WE” were a group of like-minded individuals who all wanted the same thing. And together, we could accomplish more than any one of us could do individually. My co-workers and fellow volunteers shared my heart.
I have been at Urban Ministries for more than a year now. I am no longer one person trying to make a difference. We are a family of staff, volunteers, and patients. We are making an impact on our community and we are achieving more than I ever imagined.