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The Good Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     There was just something about that Sunday thatchanged my perspective. The bitter cold air bit at my face as I walked with mygroup down a street in Kansas City. I wrapped myself in my heavy coat, and buriedmy face in my hat. As I walked, I saw a church in the distance, our destination.Since I was only 10 years old, I didn't think much of the run-down building withboards over the windows.

The houses around the church were what caught myeye. They all seemed as though no one lived in them. Doors were falling off,windows were broken, and there were no cars in the driveways. I rememberthinking, Wow, who would live around here? What kind of place is this? The churchleader and I, along with five other kids, entered the mess of a church and weremet by the pastor. He showed us around while telling us about the four gangs inthe area, and how the church gave each a different wall of the church to painttheir symbols on. This came as a huge shock to me. Truthfully, I didn'tunderstand. Why would people want to graffiti a church? Who would be in a gang?What is the deal with this place?

The pastor took us to the soup kitchenwhere we had volunteered to serve lunch. When the doors opened, 50 people enteredto get Sunday lunch. I said hello to some as they waited in line, and theythanked us for coming down to serve them food. Of course, we were all happy tohelp, but I couldn't see much wrong with these people. They all seemed prettynormal, they smiled the same, talked the same, laughed the same. What wasdifferent? Why did they need my help?

The answer became clear in fiveminutes flat. I looked around the room at everyone enjoying their hot meals withtheir families. Something seemed weird. It was only about 15 degrees outside, andI didn't see more than five people with coats. Many didn't even have sweatshirts,or long shirts, or pants, but what they did wear was dirty and old. I was nolonger confused, nor did I see them as being like me. Why did these people needmy help? I knew exactly why.

You don't realize how fortunate you are untilyou visit a place like this. For so long I saw my life as just normal. I thoughteveryone lived like I did - in nice houses with plenty of clothes and food. I wasblind to the truth.

No, I don't live a normal life out here in thesuburbs, I live the good life. But what sets me apart from a lot of others livingout here is that I realize just how good I have it, and how bad many others haveit.

This epiphany is what called me to do more and more volunteer work,especially for my Eagle Scout project. When deciding what to do for the project,I remembered this story and thought about how some people don't have the clothesthey need, especially when it's cold. It became my duty to collect clothes forpeople in the poor areas of Kansas City. It was a very successful project and Ifelt great being able to help.

I still volunteer as much as I can, and thesatisfaction of making a difference has been overwhelming. It has made me realizehow incredibly lucky I am, and what a good life I have, no matter how tough itseems sometimes.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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