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Help Yourself While Helping Others
March 2, 2013
Engaging in volunteer work is crucial to be able to develop into a well-rounded citizen. Volunteering builds character and gives you a real purpose to life. In my school, there are many ways to give back to the community by joining one of the many student-led community service organizations.
When I was in eighth grade, I heard of an opportunity to apply for my junior high school’s Builders Club. This Kiwanis International sponsored organization is specifically for middle school or junior high students to serve the community. Builders Club introduced me to many aspects of my community that I was unaware of and it allowed me to give back in small ways. Naturally, I joined the high school version of Builders Club when I graduated from junior high. Key Club, as it is identified, is the largest organization based on community service in my high school. Although the structure was very different than what I was accustomed to in junior high, Key Club continued to give me opportunities to get out into the community and give back.
For me, the epitome of volunteerism is when I am involved with helping another Kiwanis affiliated club called Aktion Club. Aktion Club is a very special group made up of adults who are living with disabilities, but who still want to give back to the community their fullest capacity. It is extremely humbling getting to work with Aktion Club members who are so devoted to share their talents and help other people.
The most common way Aktion Club members give back is by doing a service project after each of their monthly meetings. Decorating Meals on Wheels Bags, making cards for ill children in the hospital called “Caitlin Smiles” cards, making ornaments to decorate a Christmas tree, and many other simple service projects are what the Aktion Club excels at.
Many Aktion Club members also attend Special Olympics swimming practice held once a week at the local YMCA. Key Club members from my school attend and help the swimmers by encouraging them to keep swimming and have fun, and by timing the swimmers who are independent and who are swimming for competition. The joy that beams from each of the athletes’ faces when they get in the water and they have a Key Club swimming partner is truly priceless. It is extremely meaningful to us as Key Clubbers too. Not to mention, the athletes and their parents are truly appreciative that enthusiastic Key Clubbers come to cheer on the swimmers. Smiles are very contagious with the Aktion Club members and Special Olympic swimmers!
Last February, I was given the privilege and elected to serve Boyertown Key Club as president for the 2012-2013 school year. Because we transition our club officers in March, I am nearly at the end of my term. Throughout the year, it has been our goal to be recognized by Pennsylvania Key Club as “distinguished” officers. I am proud to say that my officer team achieved this title that few officer teams attain. What a memorable past year I’ve had with Boyertown Key Club and I look forward to the shift to the upcoming officers and I wish them the best of luck. I hope our achievements this year inspire Boyertown Key Club officers to remain determined to earn the distinguished title for many years to come. I know I would not be the same person today if I had not joined a service organization back in eighth grade. I would not have experienced the joy of working with Aktion Club members and I may have not learned what volunteerism feels like. Hopefully you can say that you know what community service is all about and remember that the benefits of community service are much greater than you may ever realize.
Sincerely,Cecilia StuetzPennsylvania State 4-H Council Secretary
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandi