This past week, I completed my third week as a DukeEngage volunteer at the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County. For this third week, DukeEngage prompted us to reflect on finding meaning within the work we are doing.
Within the past three weeks, I primarily supported DOH-Manatee by assisting their outreach efforts via phone calls. More specifically, this week I was tasked with contacting local faith-based organizations and areas of worship within the county, particularly those who are within underserved areas. During these phone calls, I inquired on whether these organizations needed reusable face masks that DOH-Manatee is currently donating. Within four days and after more than 100 phone calls and many voicemails later, we reached 50 organizations and distributed close to 8,000 reusable face masks to their congregations.
Despite this seeming like menial work, I appreciate the work I am doing. I believe that what easily helped me find meaning in my contribution to DOH-Manatee is my connectedness to the area. In my previous blog post, I mentioned being from and having grown up in Manatee County. I have formed a part of the congregations at a few of these places of worship and know the families that congregate at some of these locations. Although I do miss the face-to-face interaction and talking to the people I am serving and working with, knowing that I am doing work that is within my community has ameliorated the challenges that come with remote work.
I now understand that being connected to your work not only makes you take pride in what you are doing but also motivates you to push through the rather menial tasks you may encounter from time to time. I encourage aspiring DukeEngage participants to be intentional when forming connections with the communities they are seeking to serve. Forming this connection can take a variety of forms – for me, it just so happens to stem from my direct connection to the community.