Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – My Time is Worth It

Name: Olivia Polzer
From: North Haledon, New Jersey
Grade: 12
School: The University of Tampa
Votes: 1

Throughout
my 19 years of life, I have volunteered for many programs. I grew up
doing small things like Operation Christmas Child, and making
desserts for my youth group on Friday nights. I went on my first
missions trip when I was 13 with Hawthorne Gospel Church. On this
trip, I worked in a nursing home. While throughout this trip I worked
with elders, my next few missions were all about children.

In
2012, I went on a mission trip with Grace Bible Church (GBC) called
“Flood Philly.” On this mission, we directed Bible classes for
inner-city children. While several children attended these programs,
I connected with a four-year-old girl, Julia. Julia came from a
broken home and always found comfort with me. Every time I saw her,
she ran up to me and gave me a big hug. By the end of the week she
drew me a picture of us, and gave me one of her favorite bracelets,
which I still have. I had such a wonderful experience on this trip
and was upset to find out that I could not attend the next year.
However, I did attend a block party that was set up for the
community. About 5 minutes after I got there, Julia spotted me and
ran to me like nothing changed. This made me realize that my service
did make a difference and encouraged me to continue working with
children.

After
that, I volunteered at many Vacation Bible Schools until I was ready
to travel outside of the country. In 2013, I joined GBC in their
mission to Bolivia. In Bolivia, I served in an orphanage and scraped
and repainted the entire facility during the day, and played with the
children at night. My long days were well worth it as I formed bonds
with the children. These orphans had such hard lives at young ages,
and seeing the smiles on their faces made it all worth it.

While
I have done a lot of volunteering, there are some challenges that
come along with it. Leaving children when the trip is over is very
upsetting, and is always the dreaded part of the service. The
challenges, however, do not outweigh the benefits and the lessons.
Seeing the children’s happy faces is the biggest reward I could
get. Making a difference in a young child’s life is very humbling.
I have also learned that love a universal language. The children in
Bolivia connected with us so well, like we all spoke the same
language.

I
believe that my actions truly make a difference to not only the
children, but also to myself. Being able to see different lifestyles
has made me aware that someone always has it worse. I plan to take
that mindset with me as I pursue my career. When I stress out because
I am struggling with an assignment, I must realize that I have an
opportunity that others would love to have, and I cannot take it for
granted.


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