Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2016 – Helping the Poor and Disabled

Name: Kaitlin LeVesseur
From: Allen Park, MI
Grade: 12
School: Cabrini Catholic High School
Votes: 0

the Poor and Disabled

I volunteer to go on a yearly trip through Young Neighbors in
Action. Our group goes away for a week every summer to help people in
need. Examples of our work sites include soup kitchens, helping the
mentally disabled, working with ex-prisoners, and refugee homes. We
work a hard week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We go on these trips to
better the lives of people in need in different communities. In
addition, I also volunteer at a school for mentally and physically
disabled children, and yearly at the Special Olympics.

As a volunteer I am responsible for many things: like keeping
information about people I help private, making sure tasks get done
efficiently, and personally forming a bond with people I help. These
responsibilities bring challenges as well. One challenge I faced was
difficulty communicating with people I was helping. One example is
when I worked at a refugee home in Buffalo, New York. I worked with a
little girl who couldn’t speak English, but we still formed a great
connection. We communicated by pointing, gesturing, and playing
games. Another example of difficult communication is when working
with disabled kids at the school, some of them cannot speak. Those
children learn sign language, and I am still learning. But like that
girl from the refugee home, we use gestures, looks, and games.
Despite the challenges, I wouldn’t stop pursuing this lifelong

With the challenges comes an amazing sense of satisfaction. Whenever
I work with someone, I hope I am making a difference in the world.
The best part of volunteering is seeing the many grateful faces, you
see that life could be much more difficult. While volunteering I
learned that people aren’t so different, even the mentally and
physically disabled. We all have friends, family, hopes, and dreams.
People with disabilities are some of the most pure and kindhearted
people I have ever met. They know no evil and only see the good in
others. I aspire to be like this, to only see good in people. While
working at a home for mentally disabled people, I met a woman in the
laundry room. I learned that she had a severe form of Down Syndrome.
But she was just like me, funny, sassy, kind, and helpful! She taught
me new things, like how to fold fitted sheets. She was the hardest
worker and the best dancer in the laundry room. Out of all my
volunteering, she is the person I bonded with and learned the most
from. Thanks to her, I set on my path to become an occupational
therapist for people with special needs.

“Looking forward” is looking into the future and making beautiful
decisions. Volunteering helps me look forward to my career with
special needs people. Hopefully I will show others that people with
disabilities aren’t scary or different. Optimistically in twenty
years my efforts helping people with disabilities will encourage
others to accept and work with these loving people.

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