I have been serving my community for three years. I began my service adventure because of a school requirement, but have continued on my own. I represent my high school on the American Cancer Society Youth Board, volunteer at a nursing home and serve as president of my school's service club.
As a representative on the American Cancer Society Youth Board, I am organizing a project for Generation Fit, a program to keep people in shape and eating healthy. I am beginning by advocating change to our county's school lunch menu. I think it's a great idea to make young people more aware of how keeping in shape and eating healthy can prevent cancer. Having a relative who died of cancer, I know how important this is.
Also, I am trying to spread the word that women should learn how to check for breast cancer and (especially over age 40) get a yearly mammogram. I participated and was a captain for the Relay For Life as well as being a guest speaker explaining how to become more involved in cancer issues. In the future, I hope to work with children who have cancer.
I have logged over 400 hours at a local nursing home. My main job is to be a friend to the residents. I provide companionship, a listening ear and caring conversation. I have formed many wonderful relationships. I read to them, play games, and take them wherever they want to go in the home. I always enjoy listening to their stories. It's like being in a history class. Not many can say they are friends with a 105-year-old woman who is a veteran of two wars! There is never a dull moment there and I never leave with a frown because I know I have put a smile on someone's face that will last the rest of the day. By far this is the most heartwarming project I have done.
As the president of my service club, I organize projects, put together meeting agendas, and make sure we have kids to do the projects. We have had clothing drives, beautified parks and schools, helped Habitat For Humanity, served meals at soup kitchens, cleaned a canal and buildings and many, many other things.
To promote Student Service Learning we have taken part in three local parades. This year we raised $400 through a Serve-A-Thon to support projects we want do. I attended a state-wide conference and will present a workshop this year on how to build a successful service club. I also have gone to the National Service Conference.
So far, I have served over 700 hours. Being a volunteer is a part of who I am. Not only have I given, but I have received. I realize that I can make a difference. No matter how old I get or where I go in the future, volunteering will always be part of my life experience.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.