Sudha Bhatnagar moved from India to Massachusetts in 1979. Shortly after, she met her husband and moved to Pennsylvania. At the time, the company she worked for allowed her to work from home because they were based in Massachusetts.
Sudha worked full time on computer networking; the days were long and jam-packed. When her kids were born, she moved into a consulting role with the same company, which allowed her to spend more time with her kids and more flexibility with her free time. Life with two kids got busier so Sudha decided to stop working and started volunteering at the kids’ elementary school and blood drives with the Red Cross. That was 24 years ago!
Then the pandemic happened and the Red Cross and the elementary school were not allowing in-person volunteering. Sudha starting looking for virtual volunteer opportunities. She began sending messages to organizations advertising for online help. She even got her COVID-19 Contact Tracing certificate at Johns Hopkins, hoping to help in that area. But unfortunately, the roles for contact tracing were county-specific, and her county wasn’t doing contract tracing at that time. That’s when she came across the Volunteers in Action (VIA) Administration role at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). It was a role she could do at home while she looked after her father-in-law.
When it came time for training, Sudha says, “I was like, oh my gosh, Volunteers in Action is the exact same platform that I used when I volunteered at the Red Cross!” She would use the same system to set up shifts for blood drives. Now, she uses the platform to ensure the first experience potential volunteers have with LLS is a positive and welcoming one. As some in-person volunteering has returned, Sudha is once again helping with the Red Cross blood drives.
Sudha thinks volunteering is vital because, as she says, “It’s all about helping and not about expecting anything in return. When LLS first contacted me about an interview, my first thought was, I don’t need the recognition. If we have the time and the means, it’s a way to give back to our communities. I want to make an impact. I think volunteering is the best way.”
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering with LLS, please visit lls.org/volunteer.