In late July or early August, deep in the recesses of a job search database, I noticed an application for an organization called There Goes My Hero. I had a hunch that a Volunteer Coordinator must do something along the lines of coordinating volunteers, but my knowledge of the position ended there. The mysterious title of “Volunteer Coordinator” resonated with me, though, and the brief position description at the bottom of the page made me pause, not because I was uneasy but because I was intrigued.
A preliminary Google search led me to dozens of videos and articles about the Foo Fighters, the ‘90s to early 2000s grunge band whose song, “My Hero”, contains the very lyric “There goes my hero…” But amidst posts about the Foo Fighters from lyric genius and songfacts.com, there was a website called theregoesmyhero.org that helped fill in a lot of the questions I had and piqued my curiosity even more.
I haven’t been touched or personally affected by blood cancer, unlike the people in the testimonials I found on the Hero website. Still, in reading their stories, I wanted to do something more to be a part of this fight. These were people who knew firsthand the havoc blood cancer can wreak in a person’s life, who had been saved by the generosity of a complete stranger, or who had even donated and saved a life. An eye-opening consideration for me, too, was how I’d never thought of the financial difficulties associated with in-patient treatment beyond medical and hospital bills. Suddenly losing all or part of a household’s income, the inability to acquire and prepare healthy food, the need for transportation to and from the hospital, the need for childcare, or even just parking expenses while at the hospital represent only part of the financial strain that a blood cancer diagnosis can put on a patient and their family.
Before now I hadn’t given a lot of thought to working at a non-profit. I just couldn’t overlook this position, though. The more I read about it, the more I felt compelled to send in an application. While applying I learned that every year more than 14,000 Americans need a bone marrow transplant, yet less than half will get one. I learned that minority groups who are underrepresented on the registry, especially African Americans, have a more difficult time finding a match when they need one. I’d heard of bone marrow transplants but I didn’t know that they were so essential, effective, and often life-saving. I’d never totally narrowed down my job search, but I knew that I would find directly helping people rewarding.
Several days later, when I started my car heading home from the gym the radio immediately started playing the lyric, “there goes my heroooo”. I’m not one to throw salt over my shoulder, but this? This had to be fate. Now I can’t say that the song was the sole reason I ended up at There Goes My Hero, but it certainly didn’t dissuade me. A week later, on my second day on site, the very moment I entered my car and turned my key in the ignition, I heard the song again, right as Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters sang/screamed, “there goes my heroooo”.
As the organization’s Volunteer Coordinator through AmeriCorps and Volunteer Maryland, I knew from the start that I would be working to expand our volunteer program, but even after completing the application and being accepted to the position, I still wasn’t completely sure what that entailed. Interviewing with our Executive Director, Mary Kaye, and our Community Outreach Coordinator, Stephanie, gave me a lot more perspective and put me at ease. Two weeks of pre-service training at Volunteer Maryland headquarters working with a great cohort left me feeling more confident and better equipped, as did my first few weeks in the office and out at bone marrow drives. Getting to know There Goes My Hero is a process, though, and I’m definitely still learning.
So, over the course of my 11-month service year, I thought that it would be helpful to me, and hopefully others, if I chronicled my own experiences at Hero with several blogs. Full disclosure: my boss also said I should do it. My goal, as I log my experiences at Hero, and as I get to know my new service site better, is to give any potential volunteers and curious readers insight on why it’s such a valuable experience working with us and what they can expect if they do.
To anyone who may be reading this blog or is discovering There Goes My Hero for the first time like I did a couple of months ago, I really encourage you to get involved. We always welcome more help at drives and events and you could possibly save a life by becoming a bone marrow donor. If you would like to get involved or you’re just curious, I’ll answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!