Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Volunteering With Heart

Name: James Alexander Rector
From: Arlington, TN
Grade: 12
School: Arlington High School
Votes: 6

My passion for volunteerism is displayed through my experiences. In
high school, I was part of several volunteer-based clubs,
including Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis Youth United and
through my church youth group and scout troop also volunteered at a
local orphanage Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home and served with
my church in the area of homelessness in Fifth Monday Outreach making
breakfast for lunch for approximately 100 homeless and neighborhood
poor to serve them in the basement of an inner city church in the
poorest part of Memphis, TN. Our youth group and kids from other
United Methodist church conferences across West Tennessee and
Kentucky annually participate in a pack out to pack small containers
of freeze dried protein sources from 90 pound grain sacks provided by
our church Conference to ship to third world countries as a nutrition
source. The kids from my youth and scout groups from our church had
the opportunity to build our character from serving others. It was a
very humbling experience, and taught us to be thankful for the
blessings we have of food, shelter and friendships through our church
and community. The biggest challenge as a volunteer is evident:
saying goodbye. Though they were suffering from poverty, those that
we served had stories to tell and their hardened hands and wrinkled
faces represented character lines and a life of hard work. We met
the most appreciative, inspiring, and genuinely happy
people—they motivate me to continue my work in other
communities. Volunteering with the homeless was as rewarding for our
youth group as it was for those who we served. My job since I cooked
in scouting was flipping pancakes, and I tried to develop my own
style using two spatulas to make it a style all my own. The people I
served knew “the two spatula kid” and they looked forward to me
coming back each fifth Monday. The pastor at my own church and the
pastor at the inner city church became mentors for me and I started
volunteering more often with them as this same church operated a food
pantry where I could set up food drives at my church and at scouts
each week, bag food and hand out food to those in need while hearing
their stories. I have developed empathy and compassion through my
experiences and genuinely love talking to these people. I am a high
school senior graduating in three weeks and am also a college
freshman dual enrollment student majoring in business with
concentrations in marketing and supply chain management. I plan to
continue volunteering with the homeless, the orphanage I spoke of and
Habitat for Humanity Youth United open to me until I turn 25. With
furthering my education in marketing, I feel my new found knowledge
will equip me with new skills to continue serving these people in the
future and to give me skills and resources to recruit new volunteers
that I hope I can help train and encourage.

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