sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Sarah Becker
Since the beginning of my junior year, I have led GOAL Community Health, a volunteer program for undergraduate students at Hillsdale College. Promoting student involvement with organizations such as the Early Pregnancy Loss Association has taught me three valuable lessons:
1. Serve as a community
Whether I was assembling miscarriage support kits, writing letters to families who have experienced a miscarriage, or connecting students to marketing and social media projects with the EPLA, working for others has been most joyful and transformative when I have been able to work with others. The opportunity to collaborate with both students and community members has not only helped me see that my own perspectives are more well-rounded and my skills are most effective when they are combined with those of others, but it has also reminded me that I am interdependent and exist in a community. Not every woman or family experiences miscarriage, but each of us face our own individual sufferings and struggles. Learning that each of us relies upon the support, strength, and encouragement of others, even if in different ways, can be a difficult and humbling lesson. Yet it’s an important one, and I am grateful for the ways in which serving the EPLA within a community keeps that truth in the forefront of my mind.
2. Understand the needs of others
Working with the Early Pregnancy Loss Association over the past two years has taught me that caring for others is never an abstract concept or theoretical idea. Instead, it is a practical, tangible activity that has the potential to transform the lives of real people. Serving those around me requires passion, ambition, and a desire to help, but it also demands that I be familiar with the genuine needs, struggles, and sufferings of those I aim to serve. The EPLA’s deep willingness to listen to the women and families it serves has always impressed me, and I am thankful for its witness to the fact that I can only serve others well if I first choose to embrace stories, needs, and sufferings that are sometimes complex to understand or difficult to hear.
3. Keep the person at the center
Any successful organization like the EPLA requires efficiency and organization, yet even the most well-designed or well-managed administrative systems are never a substitute for the personal relationships they are meant to support. The ultimate goal of any non-profit should never be merely to solve an impersonal project or problem, but instead to serve people. Through my work with the EPLA, I am grateful to have learned that upholding values such as bearing burdens, loving people, and grieving together can require providing miscarriage kits or financial support, but ultimately must prioritize personal relationships, too.
This spring, I am stepping away from my role with GOAL Community Health as I graduate in May and begin medical school in the fall, yet I am eager to take these three lessons with me. Working with the EPLA has played a role in motivating me to pursue medicine, but has also shaped my vision of what kind of physician I hope to become. Regardless of where my career takes me, I aspire to remember that improving the health of those around me is a project best pursued with others, with a recognition of the genuine needs of my community, and with attention to the individual people I aim to serve.