Life is so unexpected. An extended Spring Break ultimately became this months-long quarantine that put a halt in my freshman year. The stress of virtual classes and maintaining a somewhat “new-normal” was now all I could think about. When it came to service, my options we are very limited due to obvious reasons regarding the pandemic. As well, it was always a major risk for me to go out and serve in person while having two parents with underlying health conditions.
I was very gracious to learn about the opportunities of virtual volunteering through the Weekly Word e-mails. If I am being quite honest, I was skeptical about how one could serve online in an effective manner. I was always under the impression that your presence was physically required to serve adequately. However, this was not the case when it came to my online volunteer efforts. The website I volunteered on is called Zooniverse.org and the project I was a part of is titled “Every Name Counts.” This organization is an online database dedicated to Holocaust victims to collect their information. My task on this website was to transcribe information from historical records, for it to be analyzed and added to the database. This volunteer effort was very informative and flexible. Specifically, I would sit at my computer and transcribe information on different days of the week when I had enough time in between classes and work. Also meaning I was able to volunteer as much as I wanted for how long I wanted.
Although I though I knew a decent amount regarding the Holocaust, my volunteer efforts changed this perspective. Name after name I realized that there were many victims in the Holocaust who we are potentially unknown and undocumented. Sometimes, the writing would be difficult to read and in cases like this the website would allow you to refresh and enter new information for a different person. I began to wonder about the names and information I entered and whether they would have continued to be unknown to without an organization like Every Name Counts. Transcribing this historical information was so important, especially for people who may have had family members endure the Holocaust and need to trace their information. I have always loved history, so this was a perfect volunteer opportunity for me to do during quarantine. I would recommend this organization to anyone who is a history lover like me and who would not mind sitting down for some time out of their day to transcribe information. I was very grateful to be able to serve with this organization this semester.
Lorilynn Thigpen is a sophomore Luckyday Scholar majoring in psychology.