Like any other teenager, I jump at the opportunity to adhere to my mother’s wishes.
So, when my mom suggested Safety Town as a summer volunteering opportunity, I couldn’t say no fast enough. Though I had spent the preceding summer mulling around the house and generally not doing much at all, I wanted nothing to do with my mother’s idea. Volunteering was something you did to fulfill required volunteer hours for graduation.
Nevertheless, I gave into her demanding ultimatums. To say I was reluctant would have been an understatement.
At 3 p.m., I trudged into my first Safety Town classroom. By 6, I didn’t want to leave.
I got to spend the day giving six kindergarteners piggyback rides and holding their hands as they crossed our miniature Safety Town street. I helped teach kids how to deal with strangers, how to dial 911, what do in an emergency and common safety rules.
As an only child, I had always been a little hesitant with kids. This experience gave me a chance to learn what to do and how to act. By the end of the two weeks, I had adopted the little boys and girls as my own. It was hugely rewarding to see my kids run in with huge smiles on their faces every morning and even bigger smiles when they hugged me after graduation. It was unabashed fun.
Those two weeks became the most enjoyable time of summer, and they opened my eyes to the world of volunteering. There are limitless opportunities in every field, one more exciting than the next. Best of all, these opportunities are easy to find out about.
My mom called our local Recreation Center to ask about programs for teenagers. Schools often supply a lengthy list of venues, and volunteermatch.org offers intriguing, endless lists geared toward individual interests. In addition to being personally rewarding and beneficial to the community, volunteering can help one develop skills or learn about a fascinating new topic.
Since that summer, I’ve taught kids how to read at my local library and volunteered at the Cleveland Food Bank. I’ve sorted medical supplies at MedWish and helped out at a homeless shelter.
This summer, I want to volunteer more. I plan to take advantage of the many exciting opportunities that were always right in front of me.