Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – How Volunteering Changed My Life

Name: Alexis Parrish
From: Richmond, VA
Grade: College Sophmore
School: Virginia Commonwealth University
Votes: 0

When most people
volunteer they go into it for a school requirement. I was one of
those people, I was volunteering for my school’s requirement. We
were allowed to pick the organization that we would volunteer with so
I picked the Humane Society. The Humane Society was an easy choice
for me, I have a huge passion for animals. Volunteering with the
Humane Society opened my eyes further in how animal shelters operate
and what it actually takes to keep one running smoothly. I discovered
that I enjoyed volunteering immensely, it gave me a sense of
belonging and helping people adopt these animals that were tossed
aside showed me that compassion exists. By this time, I was addicted
to volunteering and had involved myself with various organizations
that were close to my heart and had personal meaning, such as
Transition Pregnancy Solutions (Little Life), Goodwill and the
Salvation Army. These organizations had personal meaning because I
was born to a teen mother who, decided to keep me because of the
immense support from her family and Little Life gives support to
mothers without families or anyone else to help them. Goodwill helps
those with disabilities have work and a sense of normalcy and I know
people within my community who Goodwill has helped. The Salvation
Army is my favorite place to volunteer, especially around Christmas
because of Operation Christmas Child, where members of the community
bring in toys and food for families that cannot afford Christmas and
this shows me how blessed I am. I see a lot of teen mothers through
volunteering with the Salvation Army and as a child of a teen mother,
I have an insight to what they feel. I volunteer at the Goodwill
about 40 hours a year and the Salvation Army the weeks they do
Operation Christmas Child and that is about 25 hours total. With
Operation Christmas Child I help catalog the toys and make stockings
for the children. I also set of the shelves and the gym area of the
local Salvation Army for the actual walk through day. On the walk
through day I am either a “personal shopper,” I help the families
collect their food and toys or a cart pusher, I get carts for the
families and help them load their stuff in the cars. My biggest
challenge as a volunteer would be the emotional involvement I feel
because I get so attached and it weighs heavily on my heart because I
could be in these peoples’ shoes or my mom could have felt like she
was disappointing me. Most of the parents I see on the walk through
day often tell me that they feel that they disappoint their child and
it breaks my heart. While is my biggest struggle, it gives me the
greatest satisfaction to help the parents make their children’s
dreams come true because Santa is coming to their house. Volunteering
has helped me become the person that I am today.

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