Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Community Service-Redefined

Name: Ana Calvopina
From: Florence, KY
Grade: College sophomore
School: Xavier University
Votes: 1

Ana Calvopina

My journey through community service had a rocky start. It began my
sophomore year of high school. On a Friday afternoon, I was
frantically searching for places to let me “volunteer,” for the
hour and a half I had left to complete my service requirement that
quarter. I remember feeling frustrated at the expectation my school
had of me to set time apart from my already packed schedule with
classes, class president duties, and swimming. I simply didn’t see
the benefit to myself of spending time doing “service.” The other
problem was, I really didn’t know what that meant. At that point, I
thought service consisted of me showing up to a place that did “nice
things” for others who “don’t have the things or lifestyle” I
had, doing whatever I was told to do, staying for the hours I needed
to spend there, and turning in a paper that proved I “was there.”
Though my religion teacher and campus minister’s intention was not
that I fall into this very shallow and rather meaningless ‘service”
routine, the truth was that this was the reality for the next two
years in high school.

However, the good thing about a routine is that regardless of how shallow or
meaningless it may seem at first, you are bound to notice more
things, and even notice more things. I came to know very well
the people I encountered and worked with in two main service sites
during sophomore and junior year. I first went to Redwood, a
rehabilitation center for anyone with anytime type of disability,
from babies to elder. I was assigned to help with the adults who
lived with either a permanent mental or physical disability, and had
to guide them through basic tasks that would credit them with a
paycheck for their work. It was strange at first seeing deformities,
illnesses, and other traumas that I ‘ve never seen before. I was
scared this wasn’t a place I’d be useful in, or that I could even
handle just being there. But every day was easier. Every day the
routine was lunch with a new adult and help them do their work.
Conversation was a limited task for some, but others with complete
social butterflies and were a joy to listen to. I learned about each
other personal stories of sadness and triumph. I grew to love them. I
wasn’t just telling them how to do something, then leaving, but I
talked with them, asked questions, share my stories, hugged, and
laughed with them. As time went on, this kind of experience was my
new definition of service.

After this experience, I became much more active volunteer whether it was at
Redwood or anywhere else. I learned how to really pay attention to
the people I was helping, learn from them, struggle with them, and
even come up with ways to improve how I really help them. I took this
new attitude towards service through my final year at high school
that earned me an incredible service award given to only one student
in the school for my involvement in my community.

My commitment to service has continued through my sophomore year of college. I
continue to truly lose myself to being with others and helping

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