In the past year, I have been volunteering at the Fresno Rescue Mission serving meals to the less fortunate. My experience at the Fresno Rescue Mission has been wholesome, and more recently, it has been an unforgettable one. Not long ago, a member of the organization going through the rehabilitation program asked me, “Why do you volunteer?” My explanation should have been simple, but I struggled to express the answer in the correct words because there were no words to explain the feelings and emotions I felt when I volunteered. I thought to myself, “I enjoy helping others because it is a rewarding experience, to be a part of something beyond simply serving food to one individual.” I am that one small push towards change for the better because “even the smallest person can change the course for the future” (J.R.R. Tolkien). It has been inspirational to see multiple people in the program grow as individuals from when they entered to when they finished. Being a part of that initial change has been a reward in itself.
A large percentage of families in Fresno live in poverty, and Fresno is known to hold one of the largest populations of homeless people. Although Fresno is ranked among the top cities to be the most impoverished in the nation, many people are unaware of the growing problems or disregard the existence of poverty and homelessness. Unfortunately, it is difficult to help families move above the poverty line; however, I believe that we can try and improve the current conditions that we are faced with. People who have never witnessed homelessness often have difficulties comprehending the reality and the struggles homeless people face. I cannot say that I have experienced a similar situation, but being exposed to it has helped me become more thankful and more willing to extend a helping hand to the community.
So, why do I volunteer? When I volunteer I feel selfless and it takes me away from my busy schedule. Although I always seem to be stressed-out with school, volunteering has been a stress-reliever. By volunteering at the Fresno Rescue Mission, I learned more about the Fresno community, gained communication skills, and met amazing people. It makes me so joyful knowing that a simple gesture such as serving a meal can make an impact, more than I realized. It is the small things in life that make all of the difference. I guess what I am trying to say is that I volunteer because I believe at some point everyone is in need of help, and if I am capable of being a part of the help, I will do what I can to be of assistance.
Consider serving-a-meal with me, it is a simple application and orientation. Think about what you can do to help others and what impact you can make in the community. What will you do today to make your community a better place? How has service impacted your life? How has service been rewarding for you? But, most of all: WHY DO YOU VOLUNTEER?
Fresno State students volunteer to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness. Photo Courtesy of: Food Recovery Network
As the holidays approach, individuals take the time to reflect about what they are thankful for and are often more willing to donate food, some of their time, and attention to those less fortunate. Because people are filled with the spirit of thankfulness and giving back, the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign against Hunger and Homelessness sets aside the week prior to Thanksgiving every year to sponsor the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. During this week, more than 750 high schools, universities and community groups all across the nation unite to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness. This year, NHHAW will take place November 17th-22nd on our campus. Fresno State will be participating in NHHAW through the engagement of service learning classes, clubs and organizations in different events and activities to bring awareness to these social issues in the nation, California and the San Joaquin Valley.
Your participation in the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week will not only help raise awareness for the community, but can help build your leadership skills as you collaborate with your friends, classmates and other student leaders. Collectively, we can work to eliminate the myth that hunger and homelessness are inevitable in our society and instead realize that ending hunger and homelessness is attainable.
I encourage you or your organization to participate in the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. You might know someone who is affected by hunger or homelessness. You might know someone who knows someone who is affected by these issues. Regardless, think about why this week is important and the impact your service can have on our community.
What ideas do you have that can help raise awareness about hunger and homelessness?
If you cannot donate your time, what else can you do to end hunger and homelessness?
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill’s quote reflects exactly a lesson that the Ambassadors try to promote: we, as volunteers, not only help others through community service, but we grow as individuals as well. Community service shouldn’t be something that we do to fluff up a resume or are required to complete in order to pass a class. Service can help everyone explore their interests in life, find a future in a career, or learn leadership skills that can’t be taught anywhere else. Finding service experiences that overlap with your personal interests can make that experience all the more meaningful for you and the community partner.
My own service experiences have helped me develop and narrow my career path while teaching me valuable life lessons that I can take with me wherever I go. What have been your favorite service experiences? What lessons has service taught you about life in general? If you are looking for a service opportunity, but are having trouble finding one suited to your interests, come by the Richter Center in Thomas Building room 107.
This video has been posted through multiple social media sites, but if you haven’t seen it, it is quite the inspirational watch. We can all take a lesson from Churchill and this video that the things we learn and receive in life are the result of what we give.
So, what about you? How have you grown through service? What have you gained by giving to others?
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Ambassador Heather resurfaces a playground with other student-volunteers at Holman Park during Make a Difference Day.
This quote perfectly describes what I have found with my service experiences. I have served in various places from giving food at the Poverello House in downtown Fresno to building a community center for a village in Fiji. No matter the experience, I always find that it feels really good to give my time for someone else. My experiences have caused me to look at my community more positively and understand the difference I can make. In addition, service has allowed me to surround myself with positive people whose dedication to others is truly inspiring. I have found a niche with these people and share some awesome memories with them.
Because of service I have met incredible people, made lasting memories, and gained new perspectives and goals. My hope is that I will continue to define myself as someone who lives to serve others. I have found myself in service.Have you ever “lost yourself” in service to others? How has serving others impacted you?
The 15th annual Continuums of Service conference was held in Seattle. The Ambassadors presented a poster on one of the projects they worked on this year, and also used the opportunity to get new ideas from other presenters.
Last week several of the ambassadors attended 15th annual Continuums of Service Conference. We all walked away with new ideas and resources that we hope to use in order to better serve the campus and its students. For me though, the most valuable point I took away from this gathering came from the wise words of Eric Liu, an author and one of the keynote speakers.
He said, “Society becomes how we behave.” As I began to think about this, I realized how fundamental an idea it is. We all know this quote to be true instinctively and can see evidence of this repeated throughout the history of mankind and in our everyday lives.
In the Fresno community, we have a great opportunity. As more people are getting involved there are an increasing number of ways to put our time and talents to use in order to make a positive impact. These words will be a source of encouragement for me in the last few weeks of the semester and the months of summer to follow. I hope that some of you will also find this quote inspiring and keep it in mind as we conclude this academic year and move into the next!
- Ambassador Kayla
I came across this quote the other day, and since it made me think, I figured I’d share it with you and make you think as well! Schweitzer accurately labels most people with his statement about being a “good person” and doing one’s work well. I’ve been that person numerous times. There really is more to life than that, though. Life is so much more fulfilling when you willingly help people out. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. In fact, it can be as small as holding the door open for someone who has their hands full, or talking with a friend about how their day went. The goal is simply to move yourself out of the spotlight and focus on someone else for a change.
So what do you think? What can you do today to help out the people around you?
- Ambassador Ryan
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
– Woodrow Wilson
President Woodrow Wilson at a baseball game.
Service doesn’t have to be something you just do because you are required to. It can be something you volunteer to do on weekends, something you do because it makes you happy. I know what you’re thinking. Why would you do service on weekends when you have so many better things you could do with your time, right? Why would it ever make you happy to do service? What’s in it for you?
Now, this is where I think President Wilson’s words come into play. When we do service, we’re not just completing a task; we’re doing something that directly impacts people, something that helps them in their everyday lives and spreads the spirit of sharing what we have with others. And who doesn’t like to see other people happy? They say smiles are contagious. Making someone smile by giving a few hours of your time really will make you smile, too. Here at the Richter Center, we call it the “warm fuzzies,” the feeling of happiness you get by making a difference.
In the words of President Wilson, “You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” So go out and volunteer. If you don’t know where to volunteer, you can always come on into the Richter Center and we’ll help you find an organization that suits your needs. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make the world a little brighter.
- Ambassador Becky
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead at work.
I came across this quote the other day, and I was so inspired. We often feel that we are too small to make an impact. It is so easy to become discouraged. In my experience as a volunteer, having this feeling also gave an excuse for giving up. Why try if we can’t make a difference? After reading this, I realized that thinking that way is so wrong! Change starts with a group of dedicated people, or even one person. Every change in the world had to start somewhere. Never think that your volunteer work is too little or not enough, because you can make a difference! Don’t give up.
- Ambassador Jillian
I was reading a list of famous community service quotes. This one in particular caught my attention and got me thinking. At first, I thought it meant that every person is valuable in his or her own unique way. Then, I remembered how this quote is in a list of famous community service quotes, so I started to think on its relation to community service.
Personally, I feel that in relation to community service it means no matter what type of volunteering you do it is still volunteering, so it is still making a change even if that change is small.
What about you? How do you think this Dr. Seuss quote relates to community service?