I have done volunteer work since I was 15 and was a candy striper at St. John Medical Center.
When I was in my late twenties I volunteered at Call Rape. At first I had phone duty which was answering calls from Rape Victims. I then graduated to accompanying a rape victim to the hospital for the exam. I have seen things that would make you shudder….I have heard first hand what these women went through. And I listened and understood and told them it wasn’t their fault. I wanted to do work that helped someone in crisis and I wanted to ease my extremely guilty feelings. You see when I was in college I was at a party and I saw a girl being raped by four men. I had gone to the bathroom by myself and the party was in a house. While walking from the bathroom I saw through a window to another bedroom a girl, very drunk, very upset, being raped. I should have gone in immediately but I was scared because there were so many guys. I ran out and told two of my male friends and they went back there. The entire story is awful and I carry that regret with me. I know I did the safe thing. Today it might have been a different reaction. Today I would pick up something heavy to swing and go in yelling and swinging.
I played it safe that day when I was 19 but I tried to make something good out of it. I volunteered for several years with Call Rape until I moved to Dallas.
In Dallas I volunteered at the AIDS Resource Center where I was trained to be an HIV counselor. I also did the AIDS buddy where I was partnered with a man who had AIDS. I would take him to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, the community food bank, wherever he needed me to take him. I became close to three of my “buddies”. All were wonderful, caring, kind, intelligent men….all three died. I have told seven people that they HIV.
I’ve always felt my role in volunteering is to tackle the hard stuff, to be there supporting people when they are at the end of their rope.
Yes, I volunteer for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women and I’ve recently offered my services to the American Lung Association and the KIPP School.
Now I have agreed to tutor children in 6th grade Math and English at the KIPP school. It seems to be the right thing to do. Helping children who need a shot to excel in high school and go to college. That, too, is a pay forward for being lucky enough to attend Private School for 12 years and college. If we don’t help these children, we are all doomed.