Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Volunteerism Comes From the Heart

Name: Nathaniel Blair
From: Clarksboro, NJ
Grade: college junior
School: Gloucester County College
Votes: 0

Volunteerism Comes From the Heart

As the sirens scream, and the lights flash you sit and stare at those men
and women on the truck, firefighters. One question most do not ask or
ponder is, are they paid or volunteer? Over70% of fire departments
are volunteer. Is your fire department made up of your neighbors?

I am a volunteer firefighter. I volunteered because it had always been a
dream of mine, and it also allowed me the chance to help others in a
unique way. Volunteering firefighting is not just something you do
once a month or once a week; it is a lifestyle. The lives of paid
versus volunteer firefighters are not too different, except as
volunteers we are giving of our free time and energy rather than
being paid. This means managing a regular job, family or life events
along with weekly training and fire academy classes. Some men and
women can only give of their time on nights or weekends; the thing is
there is no requirement. When you are around to respond, you do. A
weekly training session is held every Tuesday, along with a business
meeting the first Tuesday. As an individual I average approximately a
minimum 40-50hours a week in fire department related activity and
training; along with college.

The responsibilities are broad for firefighters, however, being
responsible, professional and always having your partners back is
vital. Training together and constant communication increase comfort
level. As firefighters we are not only responsible for ourselves, but
for civilians as well. The hardest part of being a volunteer is
finding the time to manage a personal life, work, school, and the
fire department. It is a hectic schedule, but very rewarding.

My satisfaction comes from seeing an elderly person smile when we help
them change their smoke detector battery, and also the relief on a
person’s face when we save a valuable item, or pet from a burning
house. Many times as volunteers we are overlooked, and
underappreciated; we do not do it to be noticed, we do it because it
is something we love, take great pride in, and enjoy doing.

I have learned a wealth of knowledge, from daily household activities to an
in-depth knowledge of fire suppression systems, i.e sprinklers. I
have also benefitted from a team environment, teamwork is vital and a
must; also hard work, will power, and dedication have been instilled
in me throughout my 3 years as a volunteer firefighter. Volunteers
may not always have the time, they just have the heart.

As the uncertain future lies ahead, one thing I am sure of is that I made a
positive impact in the world by giving of myself to help others. To
me changing a smoke detector battery is simple, but to an elderly
person it means more than words can express, and if I have been able
to impact just one life from my time as a firefighter then I have
been successful,

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