College Impact – Volunteering on Campus

Lean On Me

MIT students are making a change in campus life through volunteering. As part of a special feature, the AltrUHelp blog will spotlight several MIT student organizations that are creating a big impact on campus. Get to know a group of bright and motivated people who strive to actively work for the better!

Health and wellness are issues that have long concerned students and staff at MIT. One student lead organization is tackling this problem head on. Andy Trattner, Linda Jing, and Nikhil Buduma created Lean on Me, an anonymous peer support network that automatically connects students with volunteer supporters and counselors through mobile text.

When seeking a helping hand, MIT students today usually either opt to ask for support from friends and advisors or go to MIT Medical. Lean on Me aims to improve campus wellness by creating a support network adapted to address two of the main problems with the current approach of obtaining aid: the fear of being a bother and logistical constraints, such as travel and scheduling.

The platform is easy to use. When a student is in need of support, they send a text to Lean on Me’s platform, which in turn is broadcast to their network of volunteer supporters. The first supporter to respond is then matched with the student.

Volunteering for such a cause is important because of its potential to help change students’ lives on campus. For the executive team, strengthening community with Lean on Me is their way of incorporating the student voice in actively making a difference. Volunteers foster open and honest conversation with the students who have reached out for support. While lending an ear might often not seem like much, this type of interaction can go a long way in impacting a student’s college experience for the better. It may even save a life.

Since the network’s release, the group has grown their network of supporters to include nearly fifty students. It is not hard to see why. According to the team, their mission to build a more supportive and friendly environment on campus resonates with many of the students, most of whom believe that the academic environment of MIT can lead many to feel unhealthy amounts of stress and anxiety.

Presently, Lean on Me is recruiting more volunteers and engaged in a new phase of platform testing. After its pilot at MIT, the executive team hopes to expand the program to other colleges and high schools in need.

Lean on Me serves as a great reminder of how lending a little bit of time and support to someone in need can truly go a long way. To learn more about Lean on Me or to become a volunteer supporter, please visit their website here.

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