This week, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is celebrating National Volunteer Week. We are highlighting the importance of volunteerism by celebrating the individuals and families who come together to support NEDA throughout its different programs and services.
Volunteerism has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It was a core value throughout my early childhood at home, in school, and through extracurricular activities. From supporting the staff and students at my local children’s hospital to providing humanitarian aid after superstorm Sandy, volunteering was a way for me to help those in need and a way for me to discover myself.
When I was a junior in college studying psychology, I felt like something was missing from my life. I realized that I wasn’t involved in any community service, and I wanted to find a way to get involved with an organization whose mission aligned with my values. That’s when I applied for my first volunteer position at NEDA. I was eager and committed to learning as much as I could about eating disorders and the impact this illness has on millions of people. I wanted to challenge myself by trying something new and unfamiliar to become a better ally to the eating disorders community.
NEDA supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures, and access to quality care. When I first read the mission statement, I knew this was a community that I wanted to support as a volunteer and eventually in a professional capacity.
It may come as no surprise, but volunteering at NEDA was the most incredible honor for me because I felt welcomed and my contributions were valued. NEDA volunteers come from all walks of life with unique lived experiences. Some volunteers have personally struggled and recovered from an eating disorder, others have supported a friend or loved one, and some volunteers are college students who learned about this illness in class. Regardless of where NEDA volunteers come from, they all share one thing in common—a shared belief in NEDA’s mission and vision of a world without eating disorders.
The work that NEDA does could not be possible without the tremendous contributions and support from volunteers. NEDA walkers who help fundraise for resources, ambassadors, board members, clinical advisors, and much more; volunteers are an integral part of our community.
Volunteerism is a gift for everyone involved, whether you are the person giving your time and talent to a cause or if you are the person receiving the help. Volunteering allows us to come together as a group to build a better and stronger community while also building for ourselves a better tomorrow. Click here to learn more about how you can get involved with NEDA today!
Gabe Gavito is the Program Manager at the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). He graduated from Mercy College in 2017 with a master’s degree in mental health counseling. Gabe was a volunteer on the NEDA’s former forums prior and Helpline to becoming a staff member in 2013. He has recruited and trained hundreds of volunteers to support NEDA through its different programs and services.