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A Home Away from Home

By: Mariyah Dhanani

When I first joined with Footprints, I felt overwhelmed by the different onboarding processes that I needed to complete in order to volunteer at Shands, but I was also overwhelmed by the amount of people in Footprints too. These worries quickly subsided when I went to my very first New Member Retreat where I got to meet people who are now some of my closest friends. It wasn’t long before I realized that everyone involved with Footprints is so welcoming and dedicated to our cause. Making friends in Footprints was almost effortless because of this!

The support of my friends at Footprints also helped me subside my worries on the unit. Interacting with patients and ensuring their safety was a responsibility that I wanted to complete to the best of my ability, and my shift buddies were able to support me every step of the way. As soon as I became more comfortable coming to the unit week after week, I knew that this organization supported something very special. Not only are we able to support our mission of letting kids just be kids, but we are also able to support one another.

Whether it’s playing Uno with all the kids on the unit at Shands, making crafts with all my Footprints friends, or even going to GBMs, this organization has brought me so much more than I would’ve ever expected. It brought me a sense of family away from home, and it introduced me to some of my closest friends at UF. My gratitude towards this organization is limitless, and it’s transformed the experiences I’ve had during my undergrad years so far.


Mariyah Dhanani is a Junior majoring in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. She joined Footprints in Fall 2021.

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