Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Lost in Volunteerism

Name: Mary-Catherine Addison
From: Cheriton, Virginia
Votes: 0

Mary-Catherine Addison

Community Service Essay

Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in
the service of others.” Community service was instilled in me at
an early age as my parents are very active with many varied
organizations within the community and I tagged along to many
meetings and events, helping when I could. Helping others has always
warmed my heart, especially when I know that often my assistance is
helping those less fortunate and truly in need.

For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to volunteer at the
Eastern Shore Food Bank on “Giving Tuesday.” I packaged food for
the needy, ensuring that none of the items were expired or packaged
improperly or damaged in any way that might prove harmful to its
recipients and I actually assisted with serving those in need.

While volunteering at the FoodBank, me and my fellow classmates were able
to provide assistance to more than 150 members of our community. I
know that the assistance we were providing to each of these people
was very appreciated, but I don’t think they realized the impact
their smiles and thanks were to me and my friends. This service made
me realize just how lucky and fortunate I am and also made me realize
the importance of participating in a day such as “Giving Tuesday.”

These experiences have helped me become more aware of the importance to
help those less fortunate, especially within my community. I have
learned to use my heart and hands to make a difference. Howard Zinn
once stated, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people,
can transform the world.” I am happy to be one of those
millions that is doing my part to not only help fight hunger through
service at the Food Bank but to help in many other ways to provide
assistance to those less fortunate.

Last Spring, I had the opportunity to travel to the Florida Keys with my
Marine Biology class to further study different sediments, marine
life, and more. While there, I was provided an incredible opportunity
to work with the Coral Reef Restoration Foundation in repairing coral
reefs on the Florida Coast, while also creating new reefs to provide
more food for different underwater species in the area.

This organization is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to creating
offshore coral nurseries and reef restoration programs for
critically-endangered coral reefs. The service that I did in Florida
was like no other. Me and my fellow classmates not only got to
explore an underwater community but also were able to perform work
that would ultimately help our environment.

At the end of my Junior year in High School, I was selected through an
essay contest to be A & N Electrical Cooperative’s
representative on a Youth Tour of our Nation’s Capital. This was
an incredible week that allowed me to tour Washington, D.C. with
more than 7,500 kids my own age and to experience opportunities such
as meeting my Congressman a the State Capital, visiting the U.S.
Library of Congress (and getting my own library card!), visiting the
Pentagon and much more. Amidst the fun, I was selected through an
interview process to become the Virginia representative on the Youth
Leadership Council (YLC) of the National Rural Electrical Cooperative
Association (NRECA). This opportunity to serve my local community as
well as the Commonwealth meant that I got to spend yet another week
in Washington, DC, learning more about our government and rural
electric cooperatives, as well as developing lasting friendships with
42 other rising high school seniors from 42 other states. Through
this program recently, me and my fellow YLC members represented our
states at the national convention of the NRECA that was held in New
Orleans, LA. Together, we worked to assist with the many forums and
meetings that took place throughout the week, provided media
assistance to attendees and educated people about the Vote
Cooperative Association. I even worked an International Luncheon!
Additionally, I got to present the Virginia flag as well as introduce
myself to the more than 6,000 attendees at the opening session.

What started out as a fun summer week in Washington turned into a very
fulfilling opportunity for me to serve my community in some very fun,
educational and unique ways. From this opportunity, I have learned
that I have a true passion for working and interacting with the
public and helping them in so many different ways. What a
tremendous learning experience this leadership/community service
opportunity was for me!

Volunteerism, no matter where it is and what you are doing, is very important –
whether it’s on the sidelines of a football game as an athletic
trainer, or at camp as a volunteer assisting children, or simply at a
fundraising event assisting with many varied tasks. Without
volunteers, many organizations wouldn’t be able to operate on a
daily basis. I have learned very quickly that it is very important
to help others in any way you can. Not only do I get self-
gratification from knowing that I have done something that is
valuable to others, but I learn many things while doing so – how to
listen; how to follow directions; how to work with others; how to be
part of a team; how to open my mind to different ideas; how to make
others feel special; how to be selfless; and the list goes on and on.

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