Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – “No Man Stands So Tall As When He Stoops To Help A Child” – Abraham Lincoln

Name: Joseph T. Ward
From: Mt. Ulla, North Carolina
Grade: Senior in High School
School: West Rowan High School
Votes: 336

Times were much simpler in President Lincoln’s era. It was a common
practice for neighbor to help neighbor. Respect and responsibly were
common traits in most citizens. Today’s world, however, is
bombarded with distractions. Billions of people are trying to
multi-task and squeeze the most “personal satisfaction” out of
every day. It’s understandable isn’t it? From a young age
children are told to “Go after your dreams and don’t let
anything or anyone keep you from it.” When people are asked to
volunteer you often hear, “What’s in it for me?” or “Why
should I help?” With that attitude, 
it’s easy to see how people overlook the rewarding feeling you get from
helping others.

My church serves a hot meal to the overnight guests at Rowan Helping
Ministries. I will admit the first time I was asked to volunteer
there I thought to myself, “Seriously, my friends are going to the
movies Saturday night”. I went reluctantly but after spending time
in the laundry room with another “volunteer”, who was actually a
guest at the shelter, my attitude changed. He was humble and grateful
that I took the time to help him do all of the piles of laundry. He
was very tired from working all day at his job. He shared that he was
always tired because he gets about 6 hours of sleep each night on a
small cot that was “not really comfortable”.

I spent the next several months on laundry duty just to spend time with
him. As time passed he 
comfortable talking to me about life’s challenges and the mistakes
he had made that brought him to the homeless shelter. I was only 13
at the time and Sam was in his late-40’s, but somehow we developed
a friendship that I will cherish for years. Hearing his story made me
realize just how much I was taking for granted.

When Sam moved to Second Chances, I left the laundry room to volunteer on
the food-line. Since then I have been the youngest church member
serving on the food line. Over the years I have used that opportunity
to set a positive example of service to others by treating each
person with respect and patience. Guests at the shelter are often
frustrated and tired. It is not uncommon for a person to become
easily irritated if I do not understand their food request. I
consider a patient and respectful response forward looking as well as
a means of promoting good citizenship and service above self to both
the guest and my fellow church members; especially the younger
members who probably have the same initial attitude I had.

Through my nearly 200 hours of service
over the last four years, I’ve learned that volunteering has a
positive impact on people more than I imagined and that making a
difference in someone’s life is a priceless reward for time spent.
I plan to continue spending my free time wisely over the next 10 plus
years serving others!

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