Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – How Volunteering Changed My Life

Name: Seth Michael Schmitt
From: New Orleans, LA
Grade: 10th
School: Jesuit High School
Votes: 0

Volunteering Changed My Life

I was a sophomore in high school, I was required to spend a day
volunteering for a particular organization in order to graduate. The
organization that my school had chosen was a construction company
that worked with teenagers called Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. So
once my day to work came, I showed up early on a Saturday morning
with a mindset of, “Let’s just get this over with.” However, I
found myself somewhat enjoying repainting an old house with an
unusual color and conversing with my friends while we repaired the
roof to make it resilient to hurricanes. Although I did not mind
completing any of these tasks, I think that the root of my enjoyment
throughout most of that day was really the homemade smoothies and
catered Domino’s Pizza given out to suppress complaining. However,
my reason for appreciating volunteer work changed at the end of the
day, when I got to meet the future owners of the house that we were
remodeling; and to this day, I can remember the couple’s look of
gratitude toward us and what we were doing for them. After talking
with this lovely couple, I learned that the woman taught at a special
education school in Eastern New Orleans, while the man was a city
police officer; and this specific house was the only home near both
of their jobs that fit within the couple’s budget. It was at this
moment that I learned that volunteering is not about patting yourself
on the back because you decided to do something good, but it is about
getting to know the people that you are serving and making their
lives more comfortable.

realization inspired me to volunteer with YRNO for 100 hours last
summer on top of the eight that I had completed as a sophomore.
During my second time volunteering, I was promoted to Supervisor on
Site, which had me making sure that all the volunteers were carrying
out their tasks both safely and efficiently. Although my promotion
was quite the honor since I had few leadership experience, I did find
it difficult giving out commands authoritatively and respectively at
the same time. But learning how to talk to fellow employees,
especially in stressful situations, is an important skill that will
surely come in handy looking forward into my career, where I may be
placed in another position of leadership. However, I do not plan to
pursue a career in construction; instead, I intend to become a
pharmacist because I am more efficient using my brain over using
tools to complete a job. Nonetheless, my second term volunteering
will certainly not be my last, as I hope to continue remodeling
houses on the side not just in New Orleans, but around the country to
give every citizen an option for affordable housing. Finally, I
dream that my charitable actions in the future will change the
housing market for the better throughout the many years to come.

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