Why Community Service Is Worth It (2021)
By: Ashley Lee
When I was in high school, I learned about the necessities of community service work and how it would help students get into a good college. Admittedly, my mind was focused on that, but as the months went by, I grew to enjoy giving back to the community more than I thought.
I took a class during my final year of high school where I mentored a first-year student and showed them what they needed to know about high school. Along with that, students enrolled in the course needed to do a couple of community service activities in order to pass the course.
My first place that I volunteered at was in a local Goodwill store. With a good majority of my peers and their mentees, I arranged for us to work at the store for a couple of hours. We got to arrange and sort out soon-to-be merchandise and develop another understanding of life- to be appreciative of the things that we have. From that experience, we felt motivated to volunteer again. As a result, I ended up volunteering at another Goodwill location where I organized their items. This completed my course.
Fast forward to a couple of years later, and I joined an honors society in college (The National Society of Collegiate Scholars or NSCS). I met the board who organized my college's chapter, and they were incredibly nice. They treated their members with respect and gave them an opportunity to get involved in the valley or in the chapter itself.
Throughout my tenure as a member, we got involved in handing out Halloween candy to children (organized by our local police department), participated in an annual toy drive that was arranged by the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and even cleaned up books to give to children in need (Spread the Word Nevada).
Because of the activities that NSCS at UNLV held while I was still a member, I felt compelled to take on the role of Vice President of Community Service. I deeply enjoy helping the valley, and I thought that taking this position would be beneficial to everyone involved in the chapter.
Once I joined the board, I made sure our chapter would remain involved in helping our community. The issue, however, was that we had to do everything carefully since we are still dealing with the pandemic. Nevertheless, our chapter gave away thank you cards to essential and frontline workers who were operating during the pandemic, sponsored the annual toy drive (that's organized by the OCE at UNLV), cleaned books, spoke to children about the importance of continuing their education, and organized fundraisers (for mental health research (mainly for college students), food insecurities (Three Square), and animals (mostly dogs- Friends For Life)).
The main takeaway of this role was that I can get creative on ways to help Las Vegas; I worked with the board to see what we could do and as a result, we would give back to the community. We loved helping these nonprofit organizations and look forward to doing it again.
Overall, I grew to love my role, and even though I no longer hold the title, I plan to continue paying it forward.
I'm sure you've heard stories before where many organizations say they need your help to make the world a better place- whether it's political, religious, etc. I know in my heart that I did not want to get involved politically or religiously.
Rather, I felt that organizations that are nonprofit such as Three Square and Spread the Word Nevada are the places that I feel welcome to give back. I didn't feel the need to take a side on a cause that could potentially harm society- whether we know it or not. I believe that I would gain more respect from my peers if I volunteered at these not-for-profit organizations.
If you feel the same way, check out any local nonprofit organizations in your area that you feel you could be of any assistance. I'm sure they'll welcome you.
And another thing to note- don't volunteer if you are using this as a stepping stone to advance your career. This is one largest my pet peeves that I am adamant on.
I get it if you need some experience in the beginning to put on your resume in order to get into a good school and/or a job. I will understand it, but if you choose to volunteer for your advantage and not even develop any regards to the organization that you've put time aside to help (the "it's only for the resume and not for them" attitude), then there's no point in volunteering there if you're only caring about yourself, right?
I cannot tell you how much this hurts me, but I am aware that there are people out there on this earth who use this hobby for selfish reasons. It's true, and maybe I'm the first to admit this frustration, but this needed to come out. Know that the choice is up to you in the end.
Regardless of how you feel about volunteering, don't be afraid to try this out. Find an organization that shares the same opinion as yours to pay it forward. It could be one of your favorite activities in your life, AND it will help the organization and its cause.
Cover photo is from Wix.