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Why I Volunteer

By Ashita V.

There are so many reasons I make sure I am standing outside the PPCWNY health center on East Genesee Street in my blue apron, escorting patients inside, come rain, shine, or blustery Syracuse weather. First, I really believe in what Planned Parenthood stands for: care, no matter what. I experienced this care firsthand and it drove me to reach out to volunteer myself. Also, I admire that PP stands strong in their mission even as more and more rights in the U.S. are being restricted.

I was raised in an incredibly loving but strict household where no dating was allowed. The first person you dated was the person you were going to marry, and that was only AFTER college. I needed somewhere to turn to for birth control options but was too afraid to go to my family doctor, as I was sure my mom would find out I was having (gasp!) sex. My friend, who had been a Planned Parenthood patient, had me make an appointment. I was set to go and discuss my options.

As I was walking there, I had no idea what was to come. The entrance to the building was right on the public sidewalk, giving protestors space to gather right up to the door. I remember rounding the corner and being accosted by protestors shoving pamphlets in my face and yelling. In the sea of faces and pamphlets, I saw a person in an apron with the words “Planned Parenthood”, who helped usher me inside. I went into a bit of shock, unable to prevent tears from flowing down my face because of the words and forcefulness of the protestors. However, the moment the doors closed behind me, I was met with nothing but great care. To this day, I thank every single person at Planned Parenthood for providing me with a safe place to go, without any judgments.

Having recently moved to Syracuse, I really wanted to get involved in the community and volunteer. My first thought went to Planned Parenthood, so I reached out and was lucky to become a patient escort. I feel that it was meant to be—I still remember the relief I felt when being helped by the patient escort during my visit. I never want someone else to feel how the protestors made me feel that day. Instead, I hope to welcome patients and put them more at ease. I see this level of care from the entire staff every time I come in to volunteer. They truly are amazing.

I am honored to be a part of such a great organization. Like many people I know, I am grateful for Planned Parenthood and for all the work they do.

Photo of volunteer Ashita holding a small plush toy