Team DC spent our MLK Jr. National Day of Service volunteering at the DC Health Expo held at the huge convention center in downtown DC. While most of our agencies had their own booths at the event, we volunteered our time to the National Kidney Foundation. They had a large segment portioned off for their work which was identifying a person's BMI, taking blood pressure, filling out a questionnaire to assess risk for kidney disease, and offering people a chance to speak with the eight volunteer doctors on hand.
We were assigned to assist people in making their way around to the various centers. We provided answers to people in line, assisted in filling out the questionnaire, and took them to the consultations with the doctors. A few of us had the opportunity to chat with people while they waited in line for their consultations. Often times, the clients would remark on how nice it was for the doctors to offer their time and how happy they were to be able to see a doctor as they didn't have health insurance. A lot of people took their kids with them to talk to the doctor about problems that were not kidney related.
This service day turned out to be really nice as we got to meet several interesting people who were also volunteers, spend time working in the larger community (which we often forget about as we our the bubble of our own agencies), and walk around and visit other booths at the Expo (some definitely walked away with good loot). It was also really good to see medical professionals volunteering their time and being friendly and courteous to the clients they saw at the NKF booth and in the whole convention center. Finally, it's just always nice to spend an extra day and connect with our team members and we are all so busy during the week! These extra events allow us to learn about different corners of DC as a team that we might possibly not have a chance to experience.
The day showed us that there is a very real need in the DC community for proper healthcare. Over 1000 people went through the National Kidney Foundation booth and were provided with potentially life-saving information so the event was really powerful. Although non-profits, foundations, and community-based agencies can give people incredibly important knowledge and tools, it is obvious that real social change will only come through collective action at all societal levels.