I’m an accidental activist. I started volunteering at Multiple Sclerosis Swim my freshmen year of college because the Sondheim program required it. I chose MS Swim because none of the other service sites could fit into my schedule, forcing my body-conscious self into a pool with strangers every week.
It took a whole semester to be comfortable with stretching out others’ legs and to open up to the clients there; but eventually I did. Through talks with the MS clients, I realized the good I was doing and decided to challenge myself more, and to make MS Swim a better program.
It is now my fifth semester volunteering there and I am the intern for the site. I make it a point to thoroughly train all volunteers and to get them emotionally connected to the site. MS Swim is more than just a time commitment–it is helping a friend improve her own mobility. At the end of last semester, the volunteers and I made an apple pie for the clients. They loved it, and honestly, I had never felt so accomplished at the site.
MS Swim, and volunteering in general, is a part of my life now. I approach my friends and family about participating in different volunteer opportunities available. Just recently, I helped out with an event at a residence hall to get kids more involved with volunteering. I now attend supportive dinners as an advocate for my friends with multiple sclerosis.
All of this came from something I did out of necessity. I am so happy to have been forced out of my comfort zone. I now hope to show fellow students how they can help others, even if it requires challenging themselves.