Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2018 – The Gift of a Moment of Joy

Name: Haley Vandermey
From: Rodeo, CA
Grade: haleypaige01@yahoo.com
School: haleypaige01@yahoo.com
Votes: 0


The
Gift of a Moment of Joy

Over
the past three years, most of my spare time has been spent fulfilling
my responsibilities as president of my school’s Leo Club, a
community service organization affiliated with the Lions Clubs.
Throughout each year we work on a variety of service projects, but my
greatest involvement has been in our projects to benefit those with
disabilities. Since joining the club as a freshman, I’ve
volunteered over 100 hours; a significant portion of this time has
been spent toward projects for those with disabilities either through
the projects themselves or fundraising to support these efforts.

Our
most anticipated event each year is Special Kids Day, a free,
festival-like event for children with disabilities to have a day to
just have fun; we run a temporary tattoo booth and lemonade stand. In
the grand scheme of things, it is a rather small contribution. Yet, I
still find it to be a worthy cause just to see the excitement on the
kids’ faces as they dig through a box of temporary tattoos to find
the perfect one and giggle as they jump at the cold water adhering
the tattoo. Still, any event working with kids who have disabilities
presents its own challenges; some kids desperately want a tattoo, for
example, but at the same time don’t want us to touch them, either
because they’re just a cautious child, their disability causes
tactile sensitivities, or any number of reasons. Dealing with these
issues has been quite a learning experience in how to deal with
people whose capabilities are different than my own and coming up
with creative solutions that work for everyone involved.

I
see my volunteer activities with people who have disabilities as
preparation for my intended career in speech pathology. With a
five-year-old cousin who is now and may always be nonverbal, I’ve
seen first hand the difficulties of not being able to communicate.
This experience drives my goal to help others who are struggling to
communicate to do so. In speech pathology, navigating various issues
that come with certain disabilities will inevitably be a critical
part of the job. So, to me, these kinds of activities are “forward
looking” in that they are giving me the interpersonal skills I’ll
need to be successful in my future career. That’s what “forward
looking” means to me, at least—anticipating the future and
looking for ways to prepare for it in the present.

Not
every problem can be solved, unfortunately; some disabilities are
permanent, and all we can do is try to make life as enjoyable as
possible. That’s my ultimate goal with my volunteer
activities—where the best we can hope for is to make life a little
happier, I want to help create that joy. Decades from now, my
contributions may not be the most memorable, but they mattered in the
moment. Lives are made of moments, though, so if I can make even a
few moments better in some way, then I believe I’ve made a
difference.


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