A Teen's Perspective: How Volunteering Changed Me

VolunteerSquare.com intern and New Canaan High School student Abby Jenkins shares her perspective on what volunteering at the Carver Center in Norwalk has meant to her.

VolunteerSquare.com intern and New Canaan High School student Abby Jenkins shares her perspective on what volunteering at the in Norwalk has meant to her and how it's changed her. We’re proud of you, Abby! – Rachel

In my mind I used to think of volunteering as maybe a one-time thing helping out at a soup kitchen or cleaning up a park. But what I’ve come to realize is that it’s really much more than that. It’s about making a meaningful difference in the lives of others, and our own. It makes us more aware of the world and opens us up to new experiences. At least that’s what I've taken from it.

I started helping out at the Carver Center in Norwalk at the beginning of February. On my first day, I had no idea what to expect and was, I admit, a little unsure but after a few hours volunteering I came home feeling like a completely different person. My mother even told me that I had a certain glow about me and that I had changed somehow. It’s true. I felt better, almost renewed, like I was breathing fresh new air. 

I was assigned to a class of first graders. My job was to help them with their homework and just spend quality time with them. I can honestly say that I’ve never met such eager and friendly kids. They welcomed me almost instantly, and I felt right at home. I think there were at least four different kids who came right up to me within two minutes of my arrival asking me to help them with their work.

Every single child had this light in their eye, and you could tell that they were smart, ready to learn and excited. I loved reading with the kids and playing “Sorry!” with them. They made me laugh, they made me smile, but most importantly, they made me want to come back. I felt like I already had a place there. That’s just how it is at the Carver Center: warm and inviting.

Before I started volunteering I would always hear people who said it was rewarding. And I never truly knew what they meant until I stepped foot into the Carver Center. I never knew I would feel so much emotionally, and that I would change so much mentally.

For me, volunteering isn’t just about the homework help. It’s become something special to me, and something that I can call my own, almost like a guilty pleasure, but without the guilt. Volunteering truly has become a life-changing experience that’s now part of who I am and how I choose to live my life.

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Bernard Schneider April 27, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Excellent. The same thought was shared with me by my daughter Jessica, who was actively involved in the community outreach program at Georgetown. All too often, volunteering is portrayed as "giving back" and helping the less fortunate. As such, it becomes just another choice in a busy life. But the essence of volunteering is just as much about the changes in the doer/giver. Giving of one's self and one's time strengthens the fabric of our community. Too bad that we can't require such as part of the curriculum of civic education.


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