By Michelle Ray, Maryville University Student and Lutheran Senior Services Volunteer
The whole time I was growing up, I was surrounded by volunteers. In church, in school – there were always people around to help me. Now, it’s my turn. It’s time to return the favor.
I’m a student of physical therapy at Maryville University. For the past year, I’ve also been a volunteer for Lutheran Senior Services (LSS). LSS is a perfect match for my PT skill set. My skills are filling a clinical need for LSS, and their volunteer opportunities are filling a professional need for me.
When you study PT in college, you usually have to perform therapy on your classmates. And that’s fine, but most of my classmates don’t have a lot of health issues! When I started working with LSS, however, I discovered the need was great, and the results were really significant. Working with the geriatric population has given me insights on strength, balance, and mobility in older adults.
I am driven by things that make me happy. Sometimes I have to step back and ask myself what those things are, what really gives me joy. I think I’d have to say that relationships are at the top of my “happy” list. Connecting and bonding with people is important to me. I guess that’s why I volunteer.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to get my friends on board with volunteering, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. I am always telling them that you make time for things that are meaningful. And I’m serious about that. The second day I volunteered with LSS, I was given the chance to lead the group. I turned on an oldies station and started dancing. The residents started dancing, too. They were laughing, having fun. It felt amazing to be part of something that gave them so much joy.
Before long, I will graduate and enter the working world, but I have no intention of leaving volunteering behind. When I begin my job search, you better believe I’ll be looking for an employer who supports volunteering.
After all, volunteering has become a part of me, maybe the most important part of me. I am filling a real need, I am bringing joy to someone else. And I am making time in my life for something meaningful. If this is what it means to learn, I never want to stop.
Like Michelle’s story? Please join her by volunteering through Lutheran Senior Services. Opportunities await at: LSSLiving.org/volunteer