Community Service is something that I personally could not live without. Most high school students view community service as a burden and just as a “requirement,” however I see it as a necessity. The gratitude I feel after giving back is a sensation I could’ve never imagined. My involvement in the community has helped my high school experience tremendously. I have been able to make personal connections with teachers and administrators, since I am always asking them if they know of any rewarding opportunities. Additionally, since I am recruiting students, peers, and friends from all of the schools in our district I meet so many new people with different ages, personalities, cultures, and sexualities all with the same goal: Making our community a better place.
I organize a community service club at my school called Glamour Gals. Girls from 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade get together every other Saturday at our local nursing home and give the senior women ‘makeovers’! We have our very own salon in their facility where we paint nails from 1-2pm. The club is relatively small, but has spread throughout the entire nation. It is my pleasure to fulfill the leadership role in our school in order to make a difference in these women’s, and sometimes men's lives.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: How does painting someone’s nails impact their lives? Well, we do much more than what it seems. Yes, we paint nails and oh do those women love pink, but sometimes when only two seniors show up for their manicures it turns into a completely different experience. Me and the girls wander the living facility looking for people who perhaps just need some company. We get to know most of the women in the nursing home on a first name basis and look forward to seeing them every two weeks. The amount of times I have been invited into Alice’s room for a glass of Ginger Ale is endless. But it is these personal encounters that help shape us into helpful young women.
My friends think I sound like a loser when I tell them my favorite part of the weekend was spending time with the old people, but it’s the truth. From the minute I unlock the salon a swarm of new stories comes my way. I’ve met women who have escaped from the Holocaust, men who have fought in our wars, mothers of 15, and some who will only wear clothes, jewelry, and shoes from her home in Egypt. I have witnessed these senior women open up in the one hour we spend with them and watch their youth emerge from their eyes again.
Being a part of Glamour Gals has taught me a number of things. Listen. These women have lived long spectacular lives and have learned many things. They love sharing their incredible experiences with us, so listen to what they have to say. Don't just take their advice...use it. They have learned from all of their journeys and mistakes and give the best advice. Instead of just nodding your head, use their advice in your own lives. Give. Giving a small 10 minutes of your time to anyone can brighten up their day. From complimenting your friend, to holding the door for the stranger who is walking way to slow, give your time and energy, because it will not only make them thankful, but it will give you an amazing sensation of satisfaction.
Women and men who feel their place in this world is under-appreciated and outdated are completely wrong and our generation needs to let them know that. Their wisdom is cherished by the youth of today, and without their knowledge we would not be the people we are, or at least I wouldn’t be. Seniors suffer from a lot of depression because they feel like they are alone. They’re not! There are plenty of teens and adults who want to make a difference in their lives, we just need to let them know that there are people who care.
Going into the senior home every other Saturday has made me appreciate a lot about the reason we do volunteer work. It's not about earning a certain number of hours for school or about putting it on your college resume; it's really about giving to those who need it. Painting the seniors nails gives me this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. I can tell the minute I walk into the home and I see the smiles on the women's faces that I am making a difference in both their lives and mine.