Meet our Annual Pledge Partner: Family Mentor Foundation
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Leader of the Month: Julia Blanchette

Posted on 23 February 2018

Hello for the final time, YXU friends! I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts, stories, and perspective with you. I hope that you have learned about why I have chosen to volunteer for Camp Ho Mita Koda and I want to leave one last story for you!

It is funny to think that just a few years ago, I knew nobody in the Cleveland diabetes community. I knew that I wanted to become involved, but for a while, I was too scared. In the past, I didn’t have to go out of my way to seek volunteer opportunities. In high school, my mom fed volunteer opportunities to me through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation that she was also involved in. In college, my sorority presented many volunteer opportunities, and I signed up for a google doc for the ones I would attend. The Hillel center also asked me if I wanted to participate in volunteer opportunities in college. I had many enjoyable and meaningful volunteer experiences throughout high school and college, but I didn’t seek any of them out on my own.

I craved involvement in the Cleveland diabetes community, so I finally took a leap and applied for a registered nurse position at Camp Ho Mita Koda. I did a phone interview for the job and got it. I was ecstatic as I knew it could open the door for future involvement in the Cleveland diabetes community. However, I was still scared! I was afraid of jumping into a community where everyone knew each other so well. I was scared to try something new. I was terrified that I would be alone.

So how did I end up feeling deep ties to a community where I was once an outsider? I figured out what my goals were and I took a chance. That first summer at Camp Ho Mita Koda, I was myself. I tried to make as many connections as possible and offered as much help as I could. The relationships I formed and the assistance I contributed went a long way. I continued my involvement at camp and took another chance and applied to a leadership position when it was open. After being the nurse manager for one year, I took another leap and offered to be the healthcare chair for the new organization running camp.

Here are my takeaway messages for those who yearn to make a difference in the community:

1)   Determine your goals for making a difference—what do you truly want to do?

2)   Find something you are passionate about. Putting time into a community organization that you sincerely care about is much easier when it matches up with your values or interest.

3)   Take chances. 

4)   Network. Make connections. Hold on to those connections. Use those connections!

5)   When you become too involved, it’s ok to say no sometimes (I have learned this recently).

Becoming involved in the community is an incredible experience. Go out there and have some fun! Thank you so much for allowing me to share my experience, YXU!

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