The Mustang Messenger

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The Satisfaction of Service

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From counselors and teachers, and even some parents, every student has heard all about making sure to get their hours. “Get your hours for college,” They say, “It’ll give you a boost in your resume.”

But when it comes to service work, it’s important to recognize that volunteering isn’t just something to check off before graduation. That’s what I thought when I spent my last few summers at my church helping with bible school and standing for hours in the heat for the sake of various outdoor fundraisers. What I hadn’t realized before, was that the volunteer positions that might have benefited me, were like jobs: tedious and hard to pin down. The level of commitment to invest in a worthy cause hadn’t crossed my mind (not until I accidentally landed my first steady volunteer position).

The fact of the matter is: we’re high school students. We’re busy with school work, clubs, sports; heck, we’re even busy with procrastination. It’s clear to any high school student that volunteering isn’t exactly the top priority on anyone’s to-do list.

I spent my summers as an underclassman, hastily completing as many volunteer hours possible with my church. I hadn’t cared for it at all, the endgame was getting my sheet signed by the coordinator. It wasn’t until this past summer that I discovered how satisfying and enjoyable volunteering could be when I began working at a local public library.

I volunteer on the weekends at a nursing home, where I play music for the residents. With the rules and regulations associated with a rehab facility, it’s quite difficult to land a job as a teenager, however, I had it easy, seeing as my mother worked there, and with her help I garnered an interview with the activities director. BAM! I was their gig for Saturday around lunch, doing what I love, playing piano, for residents.

That experience had me fooled.  It hadn’t been hard at all and the opportunity had fallen in my lap, so surely that’s how everything else was. I was utterly unprepared for the sheer intensity of actually applying for positions.

I stumbled upon my second position in the midst of a discussion with another volunteer at church. He’d given a stellar review on being a library aide and I was a bit intrigued. I decided to look into it and applied. Filling out those three pages gave me anxiety: I wasn’t sure what to put here, or there, or anywhere. What a mess! The first time I turned it in, I ran out as soon as I was out of earshot. A week passed, and I didn’t hear anything, so I brushed it off. “Oh, probably just getting that background check,” I thought.

Around the three-week mark, I was nervous. Three and a half weeks later… I turned in my second application. At five weeks, I turned in my third and secretly resigned to the thought that I would never volunteer at the library.

Three weeks passed after that third application and I’d forgotten all about it, when I received an email a few weeks before school from the volunteer coordinator at the library. When I met the coordinator at the library, he gave me a tour and a run down on all my responsibilities, and that was that.

That experience was life changing, both the application process as well as working in the position I still enjoy. Going through that application process made me rethink community service. The best thing to do is to try out different organizations or go online and look up local places to volunteer at. There’s a lot more to volunteering than just getting hours.

Volunteering can be satisfying and enjoyable. It’s not just tedious work if you enjoy it, and even then, there are other reasons to volunteer.

 

1. Helping Others

If you think about it, for the most part, we’re all very very lucky. We’re steadily working through high school, most of us with intentions to graduate and move onto a post-secondary education. Assuming you have a roof over your head and necessities provided for you, you’ve got everything. As a volunteer, one of the many ways you do in helping is creating better environments for others through giving back. You might not be able to give back tangible things such as clothing or shelter, but donating your time to a cause you believe in can work wonders and impact others in ways you could never imagine. “STUDENT QUOTE”

2. New Experiences 

Volunteering is an opportunity for students to become involved in different things and allows students to develop skills that couldn’t be learned in a classroom. Whether it’s playing music for residents at a nursing home or book shelving at a local library, volunteering exposes you to different environments and situations and breeds new experiences. “STUDENT QUOTE”

3. Relationships and Networking

Building relationships with people is one of the most important life skills you can ever learn. Through volunteer work as a student, you have the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of people from all sorts of walks of life. Through this type of interaction, students have the opportunity to learn professional skills and have access to a variety of knowledge from their peers. “STUDENT QUOTE”

4. Accomplishment 

Now, I know what you’re thinking – why do something that’s basically a job, for no money? Even though there’s no monetary compensation, the work and experiences gained as a volunteer are worth more than diamonds.

Think of it this way: volunteering is a reflection of a person’s character. A senior here at Kennesaw Mountain High, who has been involved in community service since middle school, said, “The satisfaction of helping others makes me feel like I’m doing better for myself in the process of helping others.” In helping others, you take initiative in doing so – you willingly choose to take some time out of your day and help others. Often times, it builds self-confidence and fosters the foundation of lifelong character traits.

5. Career Options

Opportunities such as these allow students to test out desired career paths. In doing so, it also gives them an edge on their resume. Involving yourself with an organization that shares similar ideals and interests can serve as a gateway to the workforce, especially for you – a young and inexperienced student.

Becoming immersed and involved in the world of the chosen career gives volunteers a better sense of experiencing the field and answering the one daunting question: can I see myself doing this for life?

And, even if the organization you do get involved with has nothing to do with your intended career path, it might lead to something else you might be interested in and you get something better out of it. While I hadn’t paid as much attention to what I was volunteering for, I am still able to make the most out of it through strengthening any skills necessary for my own future career – hopefully as a doctor. Take a chance and do something, you might surprise yourself by how much you enjoy or how much you don’t. “STUDENT QUOTE”

 

6. The College Application (Dun Dun Dun)

And now getting back to the hot mess of college – the world has evolved from being that nostalgic time of happiness and all things sweet that we long for in our childhood to a ferocious, competitive stress inducing challenge – think American Ninja Warrior and Wipeout (but way more intense).

College admissions, while at the core are still always about your scores, they’ve become much more than just GPAs, test scores, and letters of recommendations. You probably already know that. You also probably know that volunteering can’t raise your GPA at all (not even by a tenth of a decimal) or raise your SAT score by 20 points (you wish). However, volunteering gives you experiences, connections, and arguably the most important: a voice. Volunteering, while it doesn’t do much on your resume unless you’re involved in a monumental project that can catch an eye, it gives you an experience to draw from when writing essays. Whether they’re for scholarships or for the application itself, the experiences you gain from volunteering are novel ones – ones that can’t be replicated by someone doing the exact same thing you once did. Take it from alumni Archelle Thelemaque,

 

So, go out there and get involved. Stop stressing about the numbers and requirements and just have fun. Remember: volunteer work is meant to be more than what most make it out to be. Your high school years are stressful. Don’t let this opportunity become another stressor – enjoy it!


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The Satisfaction of Service