Before school got out for the summer I talked to several of my upperclassman friends who stressed the importance of volunteering. I, myself, have always been very interested in working and devoting my time to others so I loved the idea of volunteering. However, I soon talked to my same-year friends who were a bit less zealous and understandably so when I think about it. I mean, in past years I spent my summers hanging out with friends, reading various books and just living up the sun (what little we got in Seattle). My various friends’ discontent about volunteering probed me to ask around and I found out that very few of my friends planned to get their hours done with or even remotely started this year.
I wondered why this was the case because freshman year seemed (to me) to be the optimal time to get the hours done with. I mean, think about it, most freshman are fourteen and fifteen going on sixteen the following year and very few work (at least very few of my friends were pursuing jobs at this time). I figured, why not make the most of summer by helping someone? However, I also wondered how volunteering could serve to be a benefit to me because I didn’t just want to volunteer to solely get the hours out of the way.
My school requires non-profit organizations in order for the hours to count so as I made up my mind to work on my volunteer hours I set out on a hunt for places. I found many more places than I could’ve imagined; however, I found it hard to know what I wanted to do. Then it dawned on me, since I was little I’ve always been interested in neurological disorders and medicine. However, being fifteen I knew I wasn’t going to get to “intern” for any doctor seeing I wasn’t legally old enough to do that work (which tends to be reserved for 18 and up, pre-med students). Ruling out that dream made me get creative: how could I do something I was passionate about and find a place that took my age group of volunteers? I ended up asking my parents and I settled for an old folk’s home near my home. At first I found myself being a bit awkward and unsure of my place but as time went on I found out the home was both fun and I felt appreciated for the work I did get to help with. The elderly there suffered from various conditions such as Alzheimer’s as well as other disorders; however, over time I truly began to realize the high amount of medical work that took place in this “non-hospital” setting.
Today, I’ve been working there for a few months and loving every moment of it. I have officially found the place that works for me and also learned how I truly could find a fun and appropriate place to work! I fully encourage freshmen to go ahead and get the hours out of the way because along the way of my various volunteer jobs I’ve learned valuable lessons about people, perspectives and the simple joys of helping someone. Go ahead, give it a try, and find what YOU love to do! I bet you won’t regret it.
Kendall, Teen Blogger