Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – The Best Youth Forward Scholarship :)

Name: Ellen Dhondt
From: Arlington, VA
Grade: College Freshman
School: Christopher Newport University
Votes: 0

Ellen
Dhondt
Youth Forward
May 1st, 2016

For five hours a week during Lent, I dish out soup to anyone who wants
some, keep ten pots hot (but not scalding) at once, and try to keep
all the recipes straight in my head (serve someone the wrong order
and they’ll act like you’ve committed Cardinal sin). My biggest
challenge is burned thumbs and diners who roll their eyes. It’s not
the kind of mind-blowing volunteering that you take pictures of to
post to Facebook to show your friends, but it’s what I love to do.

The thing you have to know about me is that I love talking to people.
It’s why I intend to major in Psychology/Counseling. If talking can
somehow make someone’s day better, then that’s what I want to be
involved in. When I walked into the soup kitchen for the first time
three years ago, I found a place that lets me serve others while I
get to know them. I’ve had to re-heat soup on more than one
occasion because a diner and I have gotten too caught up in
discussing their spouses, children, grandchildren and everything
else, but no one has ever complained. They love talking as much as I
do, and whenever the conversation turns to the fact that I’m in
college, it blows me away how much interest they take in where I go
to school and what I’m studying, despite the fact that I’m a
total stranger to them.

I love my school, but it’s easy to forget exactly what my priorities
need to be in college. A ‘B’ on a test doesn’t seem like a big
deal until talking to them, because many of them didn’t have an
opportunity to pursue their own education and their perspective on it
makes it obvious how valuable it is. They help me remember why I
need to work so hard. The church rectory is a far cry from the office
I want to one day work in, but I feel the same sense of fulfillment
when I serve there as I do when I get an ‘A’ on a paper in my
psychology class. The two are interchangeable to me when it comes to
doing what I want to do with my life; to me both are about helping
someone who’s struggling.

Volunteering seems selfless on the surface, but really it does more for me than I
could ever do for anyone else. It builds me up as a person that gives
instead of takes. It’s made me realize that I can’t control if I
have a bad day, but I can choose to go and give something to other
people despite whatever I’m struggling with. I’ve learned that
the only change I’ll ever have been able to make in the world is
myself, and that’s okay. Volunteering is ultimately something that
I benefit from more than anyone I could ever try to help; I’m going
to be spending a long time trying to pay back what it’s done for
me.


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