SERVE & Sweat
“Upper School students are required to complete 30 hours of service each year.”
At first glance, this was just another one of my new school’s graduation requirements, listed along with a slew of other courses, credits, and policies. But my view changed when I discovered Generation SERVE, a nonprofit that aims to empower youth to make a difference. Through Generation SERVE, I began involving myself in small online projects, assisting nonprofits such as Meals on Wheels, Send a Smile Today, and Casa de Esperanza. However, it is my most recent project that truly impacted me: the very first teen SERVE & Sweat Camp.
SERVE & Sweat allowed me and 16 others to sample-volunteer for five different organizations, building relationships with nonprofits together. Throughout the week, we went from caring for horses at the Houston Police Mounted Patrol, to packing food for distribution at Bethel’s Heavenly Hands, and even to assisting in running the first Rice Owlympics, in which Rice University partnered with YMCAs to give underprivileged children access to their top-notch sports facilities. Additionally, we re-mulched pathways at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, and served lunches and stocked grocery shelves for the homeless at the Emergency Aid Coalition.
Until then, taking the first step to initiate contact with an organization seemed impossible. Group volunteering helped alleviate that hesitation. Now I have five organizations with connections to return to!
Moreover, getting to interact with the beneficiary at every project made the work worthwhile. Staying into a lunch break to finish a food assembly, taking an extra load of mulch, or joking with the YMCA kids as they raced through a soccer station became something I looked forward to daily.
SERVE & Sweat reinvented my outlook on community service, turning me into a confident volunteer. I encourage all teen volunteers, hopeful or hesitant, to sign up for Generation SERVE programs: you won’t regret it!
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