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volunteer-tips-for-teens-2016-11In light of Thanksgiving, and the holiday season in general, we look back and thank all the people that have made a positive impact on our lives. We immediately think of our parents, grandparents, teachers, or siblings, but might overlook First Responders, Veterans, shelter workers, nurses, doctors, and the list goes on. This may be because their actions are only seen and felt by one person, but it does not mean that they are not important. I admit that I too am guilty of not thanking my community as much as I should so thank you for all your deeds that mostly go unnoticed but mean the world to someone out there.

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To many high school students, community service is just another roadblock towards graduation. In a world where money buys everything, they’re faced with a dilemma: Why would I give my time away for free instead of getting paid and why should I care to help out the community? To that, Winston Churchill would have argued that “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” The lack of community service enthusiasm is not a problem with the millennial generation, or that times have changed and the priorities of society have also changed, rather, I believe we simply need to be reminded of what it means to give back to the community.

Community service is an effort to help improve the quality of life for your community members, without expecting anything in return. My grandma wanted to celebrate her birthday by asking us to volunteer with her in Pleasant Hill’s annual Community Service Day, specifically, in the Pleasant Hill Library. When I asked her why she wanted to celebrate her birthday in that way, she said, “I have reached a point in my life where I have everything. I think it’s time to give something back.” That day, all I did was nudge each book so they were lined up as close to the edge of the shelf as possible. That little action made the whole library look organized. Volunteering at the library that day gave me a sense of pride because I could see how my work improved the space for the rest of the community. Looking back to that day, I realize what a powerful thing it is when people unite for a common good, and I understand what Winston Churchill meant. We make a living by the money we make, but what we give changes other people’s lives.

I’m not alone in feeling a satisfaction in helping others. When I asked Denny Horack, president of the Rotary Club of Martinez, for his thoughts on community service, he agreed that there is a certain satisfaction in helping his community. He has willingly spent the last thirty years helping the people of Martinez and beyond. From scholarships to Meals on Wheels, Mr. Horack’s efforts continue to benefit people. When I asked if he thought helping the community for more than thirty years was enough, he stated, “No. It is never enough. The work that the service clubs do is so important that I’m going to continue on helping out until I can’t.” I am astounded by his selflessness and I’m in awe of the many people like him around the world. This interview left me wondering: if everyone took a day to plant flowers at a park, help paint a mural, or even help feed the homeless, what a wonderful world it would be.

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union