Community service. The phrase makes me think of playing bingo in a stuffy nursing home with members of the 75 year-old and up crowd complaining of various aches and pains. On the surface, this is not the most exhilarating use of time for an 18 year old, but it is by far one of the most worthwhile.
Community service is something everyone can do and it is something everyone should do. Don’t worry, the options of where to spend your time go far beyond pointing out “B14” on bingo cards, as virtuous of an
activity that may be.
People today lead extremely busy lives. The thought of giving up an hour or two a week with finals lurking around the corner may almost sound absurd to some. So why should people donate their time to community service?
In the words of freshman Katie Walsh, “It may be a hassle at the time to go volunteer, but at the end of the day it makes you really feel good about yourself. You feel as though you have made a difference.”
Making a difference in the life of someone is the true benefit of volunteering. A person is able to make a difference by simply donating time. There are people in nursing homes and hospitals without family to visit with them. There are people are without food. There are children without strong role models.
I do not say these things to guilt people into volunteering. They are in fact real problems that people are able to solve.
All it takes is time. Spend an hour or two with someone less fortunate. Having a conversation with people from completely different walks of life not only puts smiles on their faces, but it also introduces you to opinions you may never have heard before or stories from their pasts that never would have been told otherwise.
In my experience volunteering at Wedgewood Nursing Home, I have heard people tell stories from working in bomb factories during World War II, to immigrating to America at the turn of the century, to what their grandchildren want for their birthdays.
People want to share their thoughts. All you have to do is lend a listening ear to make their day.
One group in particular that has undertaken a volunteer initiative is the Freshman Class Council.
On a monthly basis, groups of about 10 to 12 students will go to St. Paul’s House to spend time with the women and children who live there. St. Paul’s House is a residence for women going through drug and alcohol rehabilitation and their children.
The council will be planning various activities for the children of the house, whose ages range from infancy to 14 years, as well as getting to know the women who live there. This will include parties, reading, games, and crafts. Everyone is encouraged to spend time talking with the women and children as well.
The Freshman Class Council has undertaken this in order to get our students more involved outside the campus. The events we have here are extremely important, but we would also like to reach out to those in the surrounding area.
We hope to create a continuous relationship with St. Paul’s House, meaning that they will expect us to be there at least once a month. Establishing relationships with the residents of the house will be important so that we may truly make a difference in their lives.
Trips to St. Paul’s House will begin after winter break. They will be on either Saturdays or Sundays, and last for approximately two hours. All are welcome.
Look for more information around campus to come! We may even organize a bingo game or two with the kids.
Schubmehl is a freshman, member of the Freshman Class Council and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.