Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – Building Community

Name: Taylor Bentley
From: Granada Hills, California
Grade: 10th
School: Chaminade High School
Votes: 0

a suburban teen attending private Catholic school most of my life, I
have not been faced with many challenges financially in regards to
the basic standard of living. Every day I go home to a roof over my
head and fridge in my food so I have nothing to complain about.
Unfortunately, some people are not as lucky. People living in nearby
neighborhoods and across the globe have the constant struggle of
worrying about where their next meal will come from or where they
will be safe that night. Due to this reality, for the past six years
I have been active in various volunteering organizations. My favorite
of these organizations has been going to Tijuana, Mexico and building
houses through a program called Casas Por Cristo. Once a year I go up
for three and a half days and complete around 60 hours of community
service. Although I am too weak to help with lifting and using miter
saws, I nail in all the boards and especially help with putting
together all of the aspects of the roof. Additionally, I also make it
a huge priority of mine to take breaks building and instead get to
know the neighborhood kids and play games with them. The biggest
challenge I have faced as a volunteer is saying goodbye. Growing a
liking towards people and places that you know you cannot live in is
especially hard because it reminds you that you will probably never
see them again and will only have your memories to rely on. The most
satisfaction I have gained from being a volunteer is ultimately the
difference I make and lives I help change. Once the house is all put
together, the immeasurable joy seen on the families’ faces reminds
me everything I do to help others is worth it. If I were to come back
in any number of years I know I would have made a difference because
without my work and work of others, many families would not have had
a house until another group was assigned them, which does not happen
for everyone. By saying my volunteer work is “forward looking” to
me means that what I do provides a better future for those who I
help. I have learned many lessons from being a volunteer, but my
favorite lesson to share with others is to always appreciate what you
have and to not take advantage of things that many others don’t
have. By spreading this message, I hope to foster a change in the
world by encouraging volunteering and showing others how meaningful
it can be. Often times it is easy to get caught up in our own lives
and worries without thinking about the bigger picture. Homelessness
surrounds us everywhere and I have ultimately learned how to open up
my eyes and see others struggles and embrace them rather than ignore

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