This I Believe

Emily - Kutztown, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 19, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

There are many people less fortunate than I. Even if they’re not “less fortunate,” everyone has moments when a helping hand makes life go smoother. I believe we should never underestimate the power we have to make a difference in someone’s life.

My passion for helping others was instilled in me at a young age. My childhood memories include going to nursing homes and visiting with residents, helping make meals for meals-on-wheels, and volunteering at numerous church events. At that age I was mad at my mother for dragging me to all these things. “I don’t know these people;” “they never did anything for me;” “why should I be here helping them?”

But on many occasions, the people we were helping had also helped my family. Every time my brother Chris was in the hospital for surgeries, people were helping my parents take care of my brother Patrick and me. The simple act of driving us to school and activities was a huge help to my parents. It allowed them time to take care of Chris in the ways he needed.

When my mom became ill and was in the hospital for several weeks, the outpouring of help and love was seen again. Numerous meals were brought in, and people helped my father take care of my brothers and me.

As I went through school I continued to volunteer with my church youth group and wherever else mom would drag me. Eventually there became a time when I wasn’t doing it because my mother made me; I was volunteering because I enjoyed helping others.

In high school I became actively involved with Key Club. One of my favorite activities was helping at Special Olympics. Just being a buddy to the kids, walking them to their events, and cheering them on made a huge difference in their day. They crossed the finish lines with the biggest smiles on their faces and ran to give you a hug immediately.

When I came to college, I wanted to continue the volunteering I enjoyed in high school. I became involved with the Red Cross and Circle K. Whether it’s helping run a blood drive, working with kids, or organizing a fundraiser for the local Red Cross, volunteering is my fulltime job.

When I see the impact that my helping hand has on the life of someone else, it makes it all worthwhile. Seeing smiles on the faces of children from The Second Mile, after putting on a haunted house for them, reminds me why I enjoy volunteering. The sincere “Thank You” I hear from residents of The Topton Lutheran Home after playing BINGO and talking with them shows me how much my time meant to them that day.

Just a few minutes can mean the world to someone in need. I believe we all need to take those minutes to extend a helping hand because one day it may be us who needs the helping hand.