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Why I Volunteer

Mariela Alvarado-Luna

My name is Mariela and I’m 18 years old. I was born in the United States, but both of my parents are Mexican. Our Lady of Mercy has been a part of my life since I was two years old. I started in the child care program while my parents took English as a Second Language classes. From there I participated in the Yes I Can! After school program and the Yes I Can! Summer camp. Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach has helped me through the years, and now, in turn, I am happy to give back through volunteering. My dream is to one day work in healthcare, so I have sought out opportunities in this field to help people.

My first experiences were participating in the SCRUBS program and volunteering at MUSC. I attended the SCRUBS programs at Roper St. Francis in West Ashley, Mt Pleasant, and Downtown. During, on Tuesdays, the school year I go with health science class to volunteer. At MUSC I assisted with patient transport and helped in the ophthalmology unit. One event that motivated me came from my first session in general ophthalmology. A young man who came to the office didn’t speak English. I saw him in the hallway and asked if I could help. He was unable to communicate with staff due to the language barrier so I assisted in the office and then translated for him at the front desk. When we were done, he said he was very happy to see a Hispanic person helping others because nowadays that was rare.

I not only gave my time at SCRUBS and MUSC, but I also come to Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach and give back to the organization that has been a fixture in my life. For the last six months I have been volunteering there as a bilingual interpreter. In my position, I’m able to learn a lot through observing the doctor. For example, I have learned how to use the ultrasound machine, how to describe good versus bad patient health using medical terminology, and how to conduct a patient interview. I also like volunteering at the Outreach because I get to meet different people. Volunteering is a good thing for many reasons; you get to help others in a positive manner, while also gaining great experience. My own volunteer experience has paid off in two ways: I have been offered a job at East Coast Migrant Head Start, and I will be attending college in six months to pursue a degree in pre-nursing.

I am happy for the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through volunteering. What truly motivates me to continue to volunteer is the chance to make a positive impact in the lives of others. I encourage others to volunteer anywhere a person is in need. Simply go out there and explore your options, and I’m pretty sure there is always someone that needs help.
You, too, can get involved with Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach and make a positive change in someone’s life!