By Laura Harwood

The Boston Medical Reserve Corps is a group of volunteers who are ready to respond to a public health emergency in Boston. In an emergency, volunteers perform a wide range of tasks to help keep the city safe and healthy.

So who volunteers for the Boston MRC? Our volunteers are everyday people like Eric and Sophie who live, work, or go to school in the city of Boston. And you don’t need to have a medical background to volunteer with the Boston MRC.

Eric Benson joined the MRC after taking an EMT class in the summer of 2011.  The course instructors talked to the class about the Boston MRC and encouraged their students to volunteer.  Eric thought it was a good way to serve the community, and signed up.

Eric jumped right in to the MRC experience by taking orientation and participating in two activations this fall!  He served at both of the Boston Public Health Commission’s seasonal influenza clinics at Boston City Hall and the Boston Teachers Union.  At the City Hall flu shot clinic, Eric worked in the Discharge Unit, collecting forms and giving out tote bags to people who had received shots.

Eric told us about his experience giving out tote bags at the clinic. Very insightfully he said, “People’s reactions ranged from indifference to acting as if we’d given them the best gift they’d ever received. It was uplifting to see how appreciative many of the participants were of receiving even something so simple.” Eric’s graciousness and pleasant demeanor helped our customer satisfaction survey team get more individuals to complete the exit survey at the clinic.

Until recently, Eric worked at a large law firm where he specialized in employee benefits and executive compensation law. He is currently in the process of a career transition, hoping to find a career in healthcare policy, a field he focused on in law school.

Eric comes to Boston from Cadillac, Michigan, a small town in the northern part of the state (which he tells us has zero relation to the car brand). Eric came to east to attend college in New Hampshire, followed by law school in Boston. Eric took a liking to Boston, so when he got a job offer from a local firm, he decided to stick around for a while. Eric takes advantage of being in the northeast through his interests in outdoor activities, including skiing, hiking, climbing, orienteering, running, and rowing. Good to know Eric will be in great shape for his next Boston MRC assignment!

Thanks to Eric for all his hard work in 2011 as an active and engaged Boston MRC volunteer!

Want to learn more or get involved? Visit www.bostonmrc.org.

And meet Sophie, our volunteer of the month in December. Check back next month to meet another Boston MRC volunteer.

Laura Harwood is a program manager for the Boston Medical Reserve Corps, a program of the Boston Public Health Commission.

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