Name: Jaclyn R. Leonard
From: Walnut Creek , California
School: Las Lomas High School
Instead of having an alliance with a certain type of volunteer program, I am
part of a volunteer club that commits to helping our community as a
whole. Originally, I chose students in action because it was diverse.
As a sophomore, I was not sure what I felt passionate in. Not only
that, but I did not think I was going to make a difference in my
position. Many volunteer programs are just sitting behind a desks,
and I need tangibility while volunteering. Students in action gave me
the opportunity to explore different programs and opened my eyes to
the difference a person’s help can make.
I work somewhere around 135 hours a year in students in action; my position was to
give my time to make sandwiches for the homeless, raise money for a
well in Swaziland, or teaching seniors how to use computers. There
were events every week the volunteers could be a part of, and each
event was hands on.
The biggest challenge as a volunteer was to motivate the other volunteers. A few
weeks after joining the club, I became passionate in the jobs and
programs we were a part of. Other volunteers, however, were less
enthusiastic. It is hard to get people to be excited to help others,
when they do not see the experience as a reward. The leaders of the
club and I have managed to make volunteer work fun and feel
worthwhile, but it was extremely hard in the beginning to get people
to come to events. Satisfaction, from students in action, has come
from every thank you, every smile, every stoic nod I have received
from the beautiful people I have met during my time in the club. It
is an amazing thing to realize that, even for a moment, you helped
someone and are part of something bigger than yourself.
I have learned that it is not what you get out of an experience, but what you give into
it. As John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for
you, ask what you can do for your country.” I have gained a lot
from volunteering, but the most significant part of altruism is
alleviation of pain in someone’s life. To give aid and what we can
spare to those who would not receive anything otherwise.