Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Changing the World, One Volunteer at a Time

Name: Kiernan O'Herlihy
From: Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Grade: 12 / Senior
School: Old Saybrook Senior High School
Votes: 16


Within the past 5 years, I have completed many volunteering opportunities,
but I have been volunteering in the religious education program for
people who practice Catholicism at my local Catholic church, St.
John’s, for all 5 years. I volunteer for about 2 and a half hours
almost every week (except for when there are vacations and such) from
September to May. As a volunteer, I float from teaching the 8th
graders to helping out in other grades if they need help to being a
hall monitor, so that no one can enter or exit the school without a
pair of eyes watching them.

My biggest challenge as a volunteer was leaving my 8th graders one day
to head down to 3rd grade. In the 3rd grade classroom, we did a craft
with glue and paper, and being that the teacher for that class was
new, I had to control the class. It was very difficult for me to get
control of them because my confidence has always been shaky,
especially when speaking. I overcame this challenge by talking to
them at their level, not talking down to them. I told them that the
project was really hard and not even I could do it without making a
mess. With that, I challenged them to do their best not to make a
mess and they all listened. The satisfaction I have gained from this
volunteering job is friendships with my students and a trust that I
have with them. It also gives me great satisfaction that my teaching
has helped them become more passionate about their faith.

As a volunteer at my church, I have learned about my faith in different
perspectives, which was very interesting to experience. I also
learned how to talk to kids so they will understand and do what the
instructions are. I have also learned about how to gain confidence
and how to keep it, which is something I have never really
experienced before. Overall, this has been a great experience.
Through this education, I see that I may have a future in running a
program similar to this, to teach kids about their faith in a fun
manner. “Forward looking” means looking into the future and I
think that this program is a major program of the future. Within the
world, I want to see a change in how children perceive and use their
faith in a positive manner. I want to see a change in how religion is
perceived within the world

In ten years, if I were to come back, I do believe that my volunteer
activities would have made a difference because I have a special
connection with these kids that I hope will influence them to come
back and volunteer for religious education, just as I have done for 5

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