Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – How Volunteering Has Changed My Life

Name: Mariah Lynn Grimes
From: Bozeman, Montana
Grade: Freshman
School: Montana State University
Votes: 0

I have been volunteering in various programs since high school and I
can say with absolute confidence that my work with the community has
made me a better person. My first experience with volunteerism was
coaching my younger sister’s Rotary volleyball team my sophomore
year of high school, and not only was it one of the greatest
experiences of my high school career, but it also ignited my passion
for volunteering. Since then I have volunteered with Habitat for
Humanity, as a high school football manager for three years, as a
leader at my church’s Vacation Bible School for two years, and many
other smaller projects. Currently I am volunteering with the
organization Thrive as a CAP (Child Advancement Program) mentor. I
was paired with a local student in need and since October have been
working with her for one hour a week. My main job is to know what is
going on in her life and how I can help her get through anything she

I am going to school right now to be a teacher, but until I am one, or
have children of my own, I can say that this is the most important
thing I have done with my life. Knowing that I am making a positive
difference in someone’s life, especially someone younger than I, is
the greatest satisfaction I could ever feel, which is exactly what
this experience has given me. I believe that everyone can be a
mentor, and I often encourage my friends to apply, but I think that
the reason I enjoy it so much is because I am already working to
better the life of a child – the exact reason that I want to be a

The biggest challenge I have come across while mentoring is seeing
someone struggle and not knowing how to help them. I went through
extensive training to become a volunteer, but you are never prepared
for some of the situations I have encountered. But although some
moments have been hard, these did not break me. In fact, I believe
they strengthened me, because I now know the kind of things I may
encounter in my future career, and have a better idea on how (or how
not) to handle them.

Self-described “teen expert” Josh Shipp has said “Every kid is ONE caring
adult away from being a success story,” and I could not agree with
him more. I look at the difference I have made in my mentee’s life
in just seven short months, and I know Mr. Shipp’s words ring true.
Mentoring a child, no matter how young or old, gives them a better
future, which makes them see a brighter world and have a more
optimistic outlook on life itself, in turn making the world a better
place. Through this experience I have learned two incredibly
important things: that no child is too far from saving, and that even
the smallest actions can create a domino effect of beautiful impacts.


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