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 Mike McShane!
1) What drew you to the BLC during your PULSE placement process?
What highly drew me to the BLC was the atmosphere I saw as soon as I stepped in. I noticed that all of the people there were friendly with one another and were relying upon each other for strength to fight through every day. I recognized that the BLC was not just somewhere that provided the services for people and sent them on their way, but rather it is a place that encourages the members to continue to grow throughout their entire life.
2) What is/are your favorite part(s) about volunteering at the BLC?
My favorite part about volunteering at the BLC is simply sitting down and speaking with all of the different amazing members. I constantly hear stories about perseverance and success that give me hope to truly make a difference in my lifetime. If people are able to fight through such a tough disease mostly by being in community with others, then it makes me believe that being there for others is the best way to provide support and show love.
3) What has been one moment that has stood out to you in your time at the BLC and why?
One moment that has stood out to me is speaking with a particular member about his journey that brought him to the U.S. and the BLC and his hopes for the future. The intensity with which he spoke was amazing and truly inspiring. It is a moment that I hold dear to me and I know that I will never forget.
4) Has your experience at the BLC impacted the way you understand HIV/AIDS and/or the people living with it?
Yes. Coming in, I knew nothing about HIV/AIDS or the people living with this disease. There were stereotypes and stigmas that I heard, but because of my time at the BLC, these stereotypes have been shattered. I know that many people do not understand what it means to be living with this disease, nor do they know that the only effect it has on who a person is, is that it makes them stronger. I have never experienced a stronger or more resilient community than the people I interact with at the BLC.
5) If you could describe your BLC experience in one word, what would it be and why?
Strength. I feel that everyone at BLC embodies some sort of supernatural strength that allows them to not only continue on with their lives, but to flourish. The BLC members have shown me that in the face of suffering and anguish, one can truly thrive if they have strength.