They were ready to walk, dressed in shades of pink. They eagerly entered the survivor tent. Women wearing pink tutus and ribbons, men wearing pink shirts and pink hats, kids wearing pink beaded necklaces to celebrate those who survived and remember those who were lost.
Smiles spread across people’s faces as they captured memories at the photo booth or filled out a pink ribbon to honor breast cancer patients. Several people shared their survival story or talked about the excitement of participating in another Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.
As a volunteer, I spoke firsthand with survivors and family members there to support loved ones. I found this walk inspirational because of the reactions and emotions of people who cared. As someone who is an advocate for supporting breast cancer education and awareness, it is fulfilling to witness a different side of fundraising — empathy.
Speaking with breast cancer survivors allowed me to understand their experiences. The conversations with the survivors let me know how people cope with extremely painful and difficult life situations. Volunteering at the walk allowed me to make a connection between the breast cancer survivors in the Lehigh community and raising funds to support breast cancer research.
It is through volunteering with various organizations that we can make a difference in the lives of others.
I choose to volunteer to gain new experiences, meet new people, hear other people’s stories and develop new interests. It is everyone’s civic responsibility to participate in volunteer work. We have a duty to reach out to those in need or help those who are less fortunate. It is vital to understand the significance of assisting people through the kindness of our actions and expecting nothing in return. I find it rewarding to help others, whether it is reading books to students, playing board games with the elderly or raising money and awareness for breast cancer.
According to the 2015 Bureau of Labor statics, one in four Americans volunteer. It is important to increase this number by becoming involved in specific organizations that you are passionate about. Volunteering opens your mind, helps brighten people’s days and creates a more caring world.
In your four years at Lehigh, there are ways to make a difference, not only within the Lehigh community, but also in the Bethlehem community. There are many organizations and clubs Lehigh offers that promote on and off campus volunteer opportunities.
Through the Community Service Office, there are opportunities to make a difference in Bethlehem residents’ lives, such as making dinner at the Victory House, bowling with students at Broughal Middle School and tutoring students during homework club. Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service fraternity, encourages students to volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club, write letters to soldiers and participate in South Side cleanup. There are also other clubs, fraternities and sororities on campus that promote volunteer opportunities.
Lehigh is the perfect place to give back to the community where we live for four years, and this is central to bridging the divide between the university and Bethlehem residents. Not only does volunteering give you an opportunity to learn about the city, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn about yourself. Taking advantage of these opportunities allows you to develop a new perspective about your peers and the residents. Volunteering opens new insight into the daily events in the surrounding the community, thus making volunteers more empathetic toward recognizing other’s needs.
The next time you volunteer, look at the experience in a different way. Don’t look at it as a resume builder or a requirement you have to fulfill. Be an active participant. Maybe help ring the cowbells, join the people cheering for their teammates and offer to take pictures to remember the accomplishment of completing the walk. Cherish the opportunity to strengthen your community. Discover a new interest, embrace your civic responsibility and attempt to make a difference in people’s lives.
Lauryn Ragone, ’17, is an associate news editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]