Life's Best Kept Secret | Teen Ink

Life's Best Kept Secret

July 15, 2009
By Maria Michalos SILVER, Mount Sinai, New York
Maria Michalos SILVER, Mount Sinai, New York
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I knew from the moment I typed “Long Island Volunteer Opportunities” into Google’s search engine that I wanted to devote my time and heart to bettering a society that seems to applaud personal-gain rather than self sacrifice and a commitment to service. At the time, I was a sophomore in high school willing to give of myself to an organization eager for a helping hand. On countless attempts, I stumbled across ads for “Lawn cutter? Help wanted!” and even more interesting pleas for help, “Peacock caretaker needed.” However tempting those seemed to be, I knew I was looking for a more personal experience, a bond that a peacock probably couldn’t provide. I was relentless in my searching and positive that I’d discover the opportunity to improve the lives of those around me while at the same time would challenge me and invoke emotions I’d never felt before.
When my searching led me to The Friendship Circle-- a program of teen volunteers who give their hearts to special needs children, I immediately sought out the contact information. Listed was Program Coordinator Chanie Cohen, who in my time with The Friendship Circle, has proven to be one of the most dedicated, encouraging, and kindest human beings I’ve ever known. Without a delay, I filled out an application followed by an interview that would express my hope and ambition to help a child in need. I knew from another organization I volunteered for that working with children having special needs was not easy, but the ability to make someone else’s life even a little more enjoyable is the greatest reward.

The organization is designed to provide friendship for a child with a disability by visiting his/her house weekly, but when I began making my visits with Nicole, a talented joyful ten year-old living with Autism, I soon realized I was creating a bond with her entire family. Their very presence and way of interacting with one another has allowed me my most cherished experiences. My Sunday afternoons spent at their household are nothing short of being filled happiness, kindness, laughter, and love. Their open hearts have allowed me to create a friendship with Nicole that is invaluable. In this world of diverse personalities, it is often difficult to find a human being who is genuine and good-natured. Sincere friends are often hard to come by. Fortunately I have had the joy meeting Nicole, a child filled with delight, affection, and a plethora of energy. The second I walk through the front door, Nicole grabs my hand tightly and leads to me straight to her computer desk, where a fresh batch of hand drawn Barney, Ronald McDonald, and various other friendly faced images take up every inch of Nicole’s floor. It’s evident that my artistic ability does not compare to the talent Nicole holds in just one finger. She is a child boundless in imagination and always ready to teach me something knew about myself.

Children like Nicole are God’s gift to this world. She has taught me to be in constant pursuit of impacting the world in which we dwell, and that life’s best-kept secrets are hidden and tucked away in the soul of every human being. It takes a special individual to reveal them, and once they have been unlocked, they are never forgotten.

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