Volunteer Work

“Service to others is the payment you make for your space here on earth.”
– Mohammed Ali

I’ve always had a passion to help others through volunteer work. Regardless of it being on my own or through a group, I always find these experiences rewarding and fulfilling. My happiness comes from knowing that I am helping someone less fortunate than me and that my hard work and selflessness will in turn, create someone else’s happiness.

About a month ago, my place of employment sent out a company wide email asking for 25 employees to participate in a volunteer day at Philabundance, Philadelphia’s largest food bank and hunger relief organization. I was fortunate enough to be chosen for the last volunteer day my employer had at Cradles to Crayons, an organization that provides children of low-income families with daily essentials.  That email hadn’t sat in my inbox for more than 2 minutes before I sent back my reply, “Yes, I would like to volunteer” (but on the inside I was screaming YES YES YES! Please choose me!). Thankfully, my supervisor approved and I was chosen to be one of the 25 employees to participate.

Last Wednesday, we drove down to South Philly and met at Philabundance’s main warehouse where we helped sort and box up non-food items, like paper towels, shampoos and other personal care items. After lunch, we were asked to sort through boxes of frozen raw meat and package them up by type. Just knowing that these items that we were sorting and packaging would help make someone else’s life better, made me smile. The day flew by and I thoroughly enjoyed the full 8 hours we were there. It was nice to feel accomplished after a hard day’s work.

After that day, it solidified my notion that I want to do something in a nonprofit organization all the time. That if I could find a job where I am actively doing good and helping others, then I’ve lived a good life. It may not be right now, but one day, I believe I’ll reach my goal to work in a nonprofit and to help others in need.

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Google is not always the answer

In a world where we rely heavily on technology and the internet, do you ever step back and think “Is this the best way?” Have we grown so accustom to using Google and other technologies to help us solve everyday problems that we forget that there’s alternate ways in solving them… like, asking a real-life human being?

Last week, I probably made the biggest mistake you can make when trying to find a new doctor… I Googled it. I didn’t ask for a referral, I didn’t ask friends, I simply just Googled and chose the top result in Google Places since it was close to work. Even better, they had an online appointment book to schedule your visit. However, I wanted to make sure they took my insurance, and after scouring their website up and down and couldn’t find which insurances they accepted, I sucked it up and actually called the office. The phone call was quick, painless and best of all, they took my insurance and had an open appointment for Friday, which was 2 days later. I was happy that I had finally made an appointment for something I’ve been putting off for months now and everything seemed to be going swimmingly.

Finally, Friday came. I left work early, found the office fairly easily and had already filled out all of the necessary paperwork (you could print them right off the website). I paid my specialty doctor co-pay (since this was a dermatologist) and took a seat in the quiet, bland waiting room. Not even 2 minutes later, the nurse came out and whisked me away to the examination room. Not bad, right? No wait time, no other patients in the office, this was going fairly well!

Not even a minute after the nurse left, the doctor walked in and this was where the whole experience went sour. She rushed her introduction, I still don’t know her name, and barely asked me why I was there. She cut me off while I was trying to tell her my issues and automatically decided to put me on one of the harshest skin medications on the market. I told her my hesitations about going on that specific drug and she snapped back at me “What, are you afraid of suicide?” From that point on, she had the “I know better than you” attitude and wouldn’t even listen to anything I had to say. In the 7-minute exam (no exaggeration, the exam was 7-minutes long), she left the room for 2 minutes after I turned down the medication. When she returned, she didn’t even look at my problem areas, or ask any questions. She became abrasive and made me, the patient, feel like I was wasting her time. She finally told me she was going to prescribe me a pill and 2 creams, but “they probably won’t work” and then left the exam room. No “thank you for coming in.” No “nice to meet you.” No “have a good day.” Nothing. It took me a minute to realize that the exam was over. I walked out of the office feeling really small and upset that I had spent my specialty doctor co-pay (which is $25 more than my regular co-pay) on a 7-minute exam that barely yielded any results.

After the exam, I went back to Google. This time, I wasn’t looking for a new dermatologist. No, this time, I decided to read reviews and ratings on this specific doctor to see if I was the only one who had an awful experience. I wasn’t. I found a few sub-par ratings from other patients describing the same embarrassing and unhelpful ordeal that I had gone through.

I then decided to ask friends who live in the area if they knew of any dermatologists. One did, and described this perfect doctor: someone who listened, who really understood what you needed, who actually examined the problem areas. I needed to know where I could find this doctor. Turns out, this lovely doctor was in the same office I had just come from. Two doctors run the practice and I happened to get the the not-so-lovely doctor instead. Go figure.

I’ve learned my lesson. If I need a doctor, a dentist, a specialist, whatever, I will not use Google as my main resource. I’m sure that Google has helped millions of people link up with a great doctor, however, after this awful experience, I’d rather not leave anything to chance. I learned to ask friends, call my general doctor for a referral, look for ratings and reviews and really do my research before making an appointment.