The gift of service
“It’s better to give than to receive” conjures up thoughts of exchanging gifts with friends and family during the holiday season. I believe that this notion is also true when it comes to giving your time and talents. Throughout my life, I’ve had numerous opportunities to do service projects and truly make a difference in people’s lives.
My community service started when I was nine years old with my mother taking me and my older brother to her alma mater, Notre Dame, for the university’s Alumni Family Volunteer Camp. We did projects with other alumni families at soup kitchens, retirement centers, food banks, and community gardens. Because we enjoyed helping these Indiana nonprofits so much, we participated in the weeklong camp three more times. I credit involvement in these camps for making service a regular part of my life.
In 2019, my family took it up a notch and decided to do some volunteering while on vacation in London and Rome. It took persistence, but we found a way to help the local communities by sorting donations at a nonprofit thrift shop in London and serving lunch at a soup kitchen in Rome. We met many interesting volunteers and recipients whom we would have never encountered during a vacation of sightseeing and shopping.
During the summers of 2020 and 2021, my brother and I started an outreach program for elderly Strake Jesuit alumni. We connected with graduates from the school’s first classes in the 1960s to help them cope with the isolation of the pandemic lockdown. It’s still hard to believe how many hour-long conversations I had with complete strangers and how much I enjoyed learning about their lives and perspectives
This past spring break, I decided to stretch myself with a weeklong trip to the US-Mexico border, which was an eye-opening experience. I worked at the migrant center in Eagle Pass, building a roof for a local home alongside a group of Strake Jesuit and Cristo Rey Jesuit students.
Serving has shaped me in countless ways for which I am thankful. All in all, I believe my experiences have proven that giving can be more rewarding than receiving.
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