Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2018 – Giving People With Disabilities a Voice

Name: Abby Ringgenberg
From: Clive, Iowa
Grade: Junior
School: Valley High School
Votes: 0

Throughout my high school years, I’ve volunteered over 300 hours and still
volunteer weekly. I’ve assisted many different organizations, but
my community service for The Respite Connection(TRC) has been my
primary focus. When volunteering for The Respite Connection, I
personally interact with wonderful people who have physical and/or
intellectual disabilities. I chose this location because I can
directly help others in a topic I’m passionate about–Respite
Care. My responsibilities for TRC emphasize creating a safe and
comforting environment for their clients. Additionally, I volunteer
at exciting events where I help people with special needs strengthen
their social abilities.

For me, the biggest challenge in volunteering is always time. I’m
incredibly busy with work and college courses, but that’s no excuse
to act selfishly. I prioritize my volunteer work so I am able to
overcome this challenge, even though life gets hectic at times. The
satisfactions of volunteering for TRC have always overpowered the
challenges. Seeing the personal impact I’ve made on specific
people’s lives is the most satisfying aspect of my journey through
community service. Having my friend Whitney (who faces the challenges
of having special needs) run up and hug me in the hallway exclaiming
that she’s missed me since I had last saw her is one of the best
feelings in the entire world. Through my volunteering, I’ve also
had eye-opening experiences give me perspective and teach me a great
deal about others. Through the interactions with the people at TRC,
I’ve learned the severity of the obstacles people with disabilities
face. Everyone is unique and not only face the hardship of their
disabilities, but also the social challenges of having special needs.
They recieve degrading looks and are judged far more than I
originally believed. I seek to foster serious change for people with
special needs so they can receive the fair treatment they deserve. I
scold people ignorant enough to use the “R” word and encourage my
friends to volunteer at TRC to better their understanding of this
serious issue and make connections with people just as I did.

In the future, I plan on earning my Doctorate of Nursing Practice to
better as many lives as possible. This aligns well with my
volunteering because the core theme of becoming a Nurse Practitioner
is helping others have a happy and healthy life. This career is very
“forward looking” because it strives to better the future of
individuals and the human race as a whole. I believe “forward
looking” is all about positive and helpful consequences that have
an impactful ripple effect on society, especially for the future. As
a volunteer, I strive to remain “forward looking” and to make a
difference in the lives around me. If I were to come back in 20
years, I do believe my volunteering will have made a difference
because the profound bonds I’ve built with special needs
individuals help strengthen their social skills so they can make even
more friends as time passes.

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