- Published: Wednesday, 21 January 2014 6:14PM
- Written by Jessica Nguyen
“I just wanted to say thank you to you guys—for doing all of this,” said a soft-spoken man who once came up to our table during the very last hour of clinic just to express his gratitude. Upon hearing his words, my heart warmed. It was only my second time volunteering back then, but I could already see the impact that the Riverside Free Clinic was making within the community.
Each clinic, I get to work with an amazing team of caring and dedicated physicians, medical students, recent graduates, and other undergraduate students like myself. Like many other new volunteers, I was afraid of not being able to keep up with the flow. But, I quickly found that everyone was really friendly and willing to help. With their support and guidance, I soon got the hang of things. I’ve also had the pleasure of talking with some of the pharmacy and dental volunteers, as well as a few counseling support volunteers from Redlands University, and they’re just as wonderful. I’ve been learning new things from various people every clinic, especially through shadowing and observing patient-physician relationships, by talking with other committees, and from hearing diverse perspectives.
But most of all, my absolute favorite part of clinic is working at the Hygiene Kits table with my awesome fellow committee members and interacting with the patients. I love letting our visitors decide what type and quantity of items would be most beneficial for them, instead of just handing out pre-packed kits—that way, they can also express their wants and needs, which helps us in our current goal to improve our variety of supplies. Some patients are a bit shy and don’t say much, but once they choose their hygiene kits, their smiles let us know that we’re helping make a difference. At the same time, I also love hearing the unique stories that many of our visitors have to share. (Once, a patient taught me her extensive knowledge about tropical rainforests and later, I learned that another talented patient frequently single-handedly saves animals from life-threatening injuries—pretty cool, right?!)
As such, I am truly fortunate and proud to be part of this large community that does so much for everyone involved. It’s been quite a humbling and inspiring experience so far, and I’m really excited to continue our progress in the upcoming months.
So as we move forward, here’s to a new year of growth, of strengthened community, and of improved health for the lives of many.