Name: Natalia Rivera
From: San Antonio, Texas
School: Business Careers High School
You Don’t Need To Cure Cancer To Make A Difference
Not long ago, a nervous volunteer walked into a very intimidating English
teacher’s classroom. With an uncontrollable stutter, I, the
petrified samaritan, asked the educator if she needed help with
anything, and, as if all the scary teeth fell off the beast, Ms.
Eaton smiled and directed the now settled student to books that
needed numbering. Finished, the English teacher thanked me, and I
left with a feeling of contentment. This is just one of many examples
of my volunteering for the National English Honor Society. I spend my
time helping this beloved organization because I love literature and
want to pursue a career dealing with writing or library sciences. I
assist the main sponsor when I can—usually a couple times a month
when I can tear myself away from schoolwork and family
responsibilities. My tasks are typically similar to the one mentioned
previously: labelling books, making posters to advertise book drives,
etc., which are de-stressing for me. But one of the best aspects of
performing these small tasks is the load that lifts off of teachers’
backs. It may not seem extremely groundbreaking, but those little
jobs I occasionally take can help to relieve at least a small amount
of stress from my already overwhelmed educators. And that is
rewarding in itself.
But it’s not always so great. One of the most monumental challenges
that affects how or if I volunteer is my extreme anxiety. Just
building the courage to ask if anyone needs help takes such a
strenuous push. I will doubt myself, stutter embarrassingly, and
sometimes just turn around completely. But I can admit that when I
find the bravery I need, I am so proud that I faced my fear, —an
example of the satisfaction in volunteering.
Foremost, standing up to my fear gives me a considerable amount of
gratification, but, more importantly, it is the knowledge that I took
stress from someone else’s mind. I wouldn’t wish my constant
trepidation on anyone, and I feel that when I volunteer to help
someone, I keep that hope alive. In addition, by completing these
seemingly insignificant tasks and knowing their impact, I have
learned that you don’t need to do something extravagant, like
perform a miracle surgery or cure a cancer, to make a difference.
Because they don’t believe it will change anything, teens my age are
oblivious to the positive effect any volunteering has for the
the contrary, putting a smile on someone’s face by offering to
carry a heavy box for them or easing their strain by sorting papers
is significant, too, which is “forward looking” to me: having an
open mind and not absorbing preconceived ideas.
Lastly, I don’t expect recognition for the work I do for free, and that
mentality is something I think I’d want to bring back to my
generation as a way of thinking. We need to appreciate the acts of
kindness in life.