Students who volunteer get a lot back in return
A few weeks ago Meta McDonald, Massage Therapy Program Director at Branford’s Jersey City campus, received an email from the Head of Business Relations for Rugged Maniac – an organization that facilitates long-distance obstacle races all along the east coast.
Rugged Maniac was extending its thanks to Branford, Jersey City’s massage therapy students for providing complimentary muscle stretching and table massage throughout a recent three-mile “mud run” in Northern Jersey. The event attracted 11,000 attendees.
Community outreach has become fairly common for Branford, Jersey City’s massage therapist training program. Over the past two months, McDonald and her students have volunteered at a number of events, including an afternoon picnic held by the Jersey City Cultural Affairs Office, and an all-day barbecue held in nearby Arlington Park. The goal is to help students harness their skills while promoting the program and Branford Hall, as well.
Creating a win-win
According to McDonald, the students who take part in these events benefit from learning how to handle intake, deal with clients, evaluate tense muscle groups, and alleviate pain. Meanwhile, students are also building up their hand strength and endurance, which will make spending hours working over a massage table or chair easier once they get out into the working world.
“These events are a way for us to get our foot in the door,” McDonald explained. “When attendees see all of our students and the services that we are providing, they take notice … The better known our program is, the more opportunity our students have for [eventual] placement and advancement.”
Among those opportunities is the chance for students meet and interact with community organizers and local volunteers. The connections students are making could have an impact down the road.
Better to give than to receive
McDonald is continuing to pursue inroads with community organizers, especially anyone who is in charge of coordinating events. She states that volunteer work has proven to be one of the most effective and rewarding ways she has of helping students apply what they’re learning in the classroom.
“Whenever someone at an event raves about a massage, that sends a message to the student that he or she is providing a valuable service,” McDonald explained. “To see the smiles on our students’ faces and hear the stories that they tell about these events … it’s the best.”