Community Service Gives Purpose to My Life

Community Service Gives Purpose to My Life

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During my last year of high school, I was looking for something productive to do. I didn’t know many people because I had just moved to town and everything was new to me. Searching for opportunities to get involved and make new friends I decided it would be a good idea to make an appointment with my student counselor and discuss what was available for me to do. While speaking with my high school counselor, she asked if I had an interest in performing community service. She then explained the advantages of community service, but I wondered to myself, “what can volunteering teach me and why would I not be paid for doing work?”.

I began to investigate organizations where I could perform community service. I soon discovered the “Hispanic Cultural Center” , I immediately became interested because I am Hispanic myself and I thought it would be nice to learn some more about my culture and meet more people. I made a call for an interview, and I committed myself to begin as soon as possible. As the school year began to unravel I knew it would be difficult to spend my afternoons helping because of all the homework and assignments I had to do in order to pass all of my classes. For a second I doubted I could handle school and volunteering, but I embraced the risks and proceeded to do both. My volunteering hours consisted of endless office work, organization of events and decorating. I liked it, it was something I enjoyed doing and I felt competent of doing. I didn’t know this until later but doing all these things made me realize that at the same time I was working I was having fun, after all, volunteering was teaching me a lesson.

One day during November the lady I was working with and I went out to get lunch, we had become good friends and she seemed to enjoy my company. As we were having lunch and talking about different subjects she said she was thankful for people like me, I didn’t understand what she had just said but I knew it had made an impact in me. I felt proud of her words but I didn’t know why, until I finally decided to ask her when we were both in silence. The question escaped my mouth before I had anticipated or formulated what I had meant to ask.

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I remember I asked in such bewilderment “Why are you thankful for people like me?” she then replied “Well, you see, not everyone knows what volunteering is really about.” to which I answered “I don’t think I, myself, know what it is truly about” and her following words not only touched my heart but they also changed the way I would forever look at those people who volunteer from the bottom of their hearts. She said “Volunteering is more than just volunteering; it is all about giving back to your community, helping not because you’re told to, but because you feel the need within you to do something about a problem going on in your city or because you want to give a hand to those who need help, like me…” she then paused and continued, “volunteers don’t get paid; not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless”. I was in shock by what she had said. I felt something in my heart, a feeling of happiness. I knew what she had meant. I understood what she had been trying to explain all along. Volunteers are special because they do things for others out of generosity, and how can that be paid? Any amount would not be enough.

As the months went by I kept dropping by to help my new friend, the president of the Hispanic Cultural Center. She was happy and thankful and so was I. I had finally understood why volunteers are needed in our community and that volunteering was all about helping. I had learned the lesson she had tried to teach me. Little did I know the Hispanic Cultural Center would become more than just a place of work, but it would be like a second home to me and that I’d be so grateful for the opportunity life had given of volunteering there and meeting such wonderful people. All this was possible and could not had been done without a community service program at my school.

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