Around the age of five, I had my first true experience with voluntary work in my community. Being my silly, little toddler-self, I was simply helping hand out cans at my old parish’s food pantry, not really caring or knowing what exactly I was doing. That was until a young girl of about the same age appeared before me. She reminded me just of myself, only looking to be more tired, filthy, and dressed in almost rugged clothing. Her family standing beside her looked to be in indistinguishable condition. I slowly pulled a can of vegetables out of a bag beside me and grimaced upon reading the label, thinking of how disgusting it would taste. However, when I handed it over to this mysterious girl, her face had a complete opposite reaction and began to beam. She cradled this can and proudly displayed it to her family before they grabbed a few more things and left. For the rest of that night, and even up until today almost ten years later, I still keep in mind this little girl, truly realizing what I was doing and why. I was able to grasp how a little bit of work can make such a significant impact in the community. It hit me that all lives are the same, but that many are much needier than others and in desperate condition. This act of service not only gave me this realization, but also an amazing feeling that really can only be fulfilled from doing good. With this feeling, you don’t leave with a cash prize, or a trophy, or bragging rights, but instead something better. You help towards a change that will directly benefit someone or something in a physical way, and will benefit you internally with a sense of boost and purpose. It was this same event in my young life that has lead and inspired me to affiliate with many others and enrich myself with charitable work as much as I can. Throughout elementary school, I continued going back to St. Vincent de Paul’s food pantry, no longer just distributing cans, but undeniably assisting financially struggling families in my community weekly on Monday nights. Through my family connection in the Delaware National Guard, I continually volunteer with the DNG Youth/Family program and assist with events, parades, and parties for children who unfortunately deal with deployments and other afflictions military families must go through. Another family connection led me to the non-profit Neighbors to Nicaragua, which focuses on alleviating poverty in Nicaragua with a special focus on education, and has built schools and homes for the impoverished. I have organized and attended many fundraising events for them, that all lead to empowering the lives of these Nicaraguan families. At the start of every summer I love volunteering for the St. Anthony’s Italian Festival, and work a variety of hours over the course of the year for St. Anthony’s parish. However these only account for few of the amazing volunteer opportunities-I incorporate myself into many charity events with my elementary school, my high school, county and state parks, animal shelters, races and tournaments, and other foundations that arise seeking help (this all accounting up for the 100+ hours). Beyond that, charitable work can just start with random acts of kindness, such as holding the door. Therefore, I believe it really isn’t in the numbers or how many hours you try to mark down, but for the actual impacts your work makes and what it can do for you. In just working for the better out of pure goodness, you can certainly impact many needy lives in your community or address major concerns and problems. I believe everyone has that “first true experience” in service, and hope that it only continues to grow and inspire everyone to further themselves in their voluntary work, as I will continue all the work I can, progressing in little steps that will make big changes in both my community and the whole world (perhaps being able to with the help of the Community Service Award from Teen Ink!) Thank you for consideration.
Community Service Award
April 2, 2018