Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Change

Name: Carilyn Polanco
From: Lawrence, MA
Grade: Senior - 12th Grade
School: Lawrence High School (Health & Human Services)
Votes: 0

Carilyn Polanco
May 1, 2016


I live in a city,
that has the reputation of being dammed. A poor city, with poor
residents. But there are hidden gems, that try to help this city grow
and develop into the beautiful place that it could be. They do this
through volunteering, because they see that it makes a difference.
And as soon as I realized this, I decided that I too wanted to make a
difference. And so, I decided to volunteer. I decided to make a

The first time I
volunteered at the Cor Unum meal center, I was a sophomore. It was a
requirement for the JROTC class I was taking. I remember it was a
Tuesday, and my job was to be a server. I was to greet the people
that sat in the table that I was in charge of. They all mostly looked
homeless. The first thing I did was greet them and ask what they
would like to drink? “Today we have orange juice, water, and
coffee. “ “Orange juice please” “I will be right over sir.”
Then I would pour juice for those who wanted juice, water for those
who wanted water, and coffee for those who prefered caffeine.
Afterwards, I would bring them each an appetizer; which would usually
be soup or salad, and then afterwards bring them their meal. It all
seemed very gratifying for me, how they enjoyed their meal. I felt
good knowing that today, I had been there to see people eat and no
longer be hungry.

The family that made the most impact on me that day, was a family of
three children who entered with what I believe was their mother and
father, and possibly, maybe an aunt. THey did not look homeless, they
looked like my three member family. For a moment, I could see my
sister, mother, and I, sitting down in that table – happily waiting
to be served. That’s when I realized that hunger hunts not just the
homeless, but those who work to pay the rent, and sometimes do not
even have enough to provide a meal for their family. And it’s not
that they don’t want to, or that they didn’t work hard enough. Just
that sometimes, there is not enough. And so in that moment right
there, I realized that places like Cor Unum are the type of places
that make a difference. They help families eat. They help end the
hunger. That is why I try to volunteer at least once a week, when I
can. Because, there has been times when my mom, sister and I – have
been hungry. And so in the near future, I hope to earn enough money
to create another meal center in my city of Lawrence, because just
one place can make a difference. I have yet to encounter a challenge
that kills my optimism. There has been no major challenge, in my
journey to make a change.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".