Here at the BLC, we are extremely lucky to be one of the sites for Boston College’s PULSE program for service learning. We have had the great opportunity of having 5 amazing undergrad students volunteering with us since September 2014, and as their time with us is soon coming to an end, we wanted to hear a little bit about what their BLC experiences have been like. Today we’d like to introduce Audrey Fleming!
1) What drew you to the BLC during your PULSE placement process?
I was very interested in finding a PULSE placement related to healthcare because it is a field I am extremely interested in and want to be a part of post college. After taking a tour at the BLC, I knew that it would be a perfect fit for me because of the community-like environment and cheerfulness of the members. In addition to the members, all of the staff seemed very open and excited to have PULSE students come in and help for the year. The BLC is a community where I have constantly been learning and forming meaningful relationships since the first day I began volunteering in September.
2) What is/are your favorite part(s) about volunteering at the BLC?
My favorite part of my day at the BLC is eating lunch at 12pm with all of the members and staff in the cafeteria. When the members come in to eat, everyone is happy, friendly, and always wants to know how you are doing and what you have been up to. The staff often sits and eats among the members and even the volunteers have fun serving food. The cafeteria is an amazing environment to relax, forget about your daily troubles, and enjoy a delicious meal with friends.
3) What has been one moment that has stood out to you in your time at the BLC and why?
One of my most memorable experiences from my time at the BLC was the Gratitude Dinner, which representatives from all of the Victory Programs attended at a restaurant in Dorchester. I will remember this event for a very long time because I experienced first-hand the positive effects that the Boston Living Center and the other Victory Programs have had on so many lives. During their speeches, many past and current members from the BLC said that this center saved them and they do not know where they would be without the love and support from their fellow members. These speeches stuck with me and make me so grateful that I am volunteering at a place that is working to make real change in the lives of those associated with it, and to know that I have even a miniscule part in these changes is an honor.
4) Has your experience at the BLC impacted the way you understand HIV/AIDS and/or the people living with it?
My experience at the BLC has taught me so much more than just the basic facts about HIV/AIDS. By attending workshops and having conversations with members, I have learned about HIV/AIDS stigma and how much it affects many people with the virus, which I was not aware of before my volunteering began. I see how many members here at the BLC not only have to deal with the effects of the virus but also other parts of their lives that are affected, such as work and housing.
5) If you could describe your BLC experience in one word, what would it be and why?
Effervescent. Effervescent is defined as vivacious and enthusiastic. I would consider the staff and members to give off effervescence and even the BLC building itself. Everyone is always happy and lively at the Boston Living Center every single day. The cafeteria is always active with conversation and laughter, which can be heard even from the lobby below. This is a center for people to gather and celebrate life, to take comfort in knowing they have such a large support system, and I feel recharged each time that I come in to volunteer.