This I Believe

Jon - San Diego, California
Entered on November 27, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Wow, it was the end of my junior year in high school and I still had 150 community service hours I had to finish before I could graduate. During this time I was thinking to myself there is no way I could ever do this because I had never done anything in my life to give back to the community. I had lived a fun simple life growing up going from sport to sport and activity to activity. My parents always told me I just thought about myself and finally I had enough. That following summer I was going to do something for the community, finish my hours for school, and get my parents off my back.

It was my senior summer and I decided to sign up to go build houses in Tijuana for the underprivileged through my church youth group. A lot of my buddies were going so I thought it would be fun. As I arrived in Mexico after a long gruesome drive, my group and I set up tent before we would spend a week straight building a house I was not quite looking forward to construct. The next day we went over to the building site and met the family I would be building for. I was astonished to see what they were living in. It was no more than an 8 by 5 foot box with no electricity, plumbing, and cable. It finally occurred to me how good I really have it in life. Why should I ever complain about something so dull such as fighting with my dad about who gets the television when there are people out there that can’t even watch it? Wow, what a wake up call. The whole next week I worked as hard as I could all day to ensure that these people would be pleased with what we were trying to provide them.

I will never forget that last day on the job. When the job was done, my group and I stood around the house in excitement as we were about to give the owners the keys to their new home. It was at that moment I gave the keys to the family and immediately the mother burst into tears and gave me a hug. It was at this moment I dropped everything I was doing and began to cry with her. Words cannot even describe this feeling I had. I had never been so happy in my life and had realized if it felt this good to give to the community or to just give a simple hello to some stranger on the road then I was not going to ever stop. I now have the feeling of giving in my blood and I make it my prerogative to give back as much as I can. I now volunteer to umpire baseball in the summer time and have continued to go back to Mexico every year to build houses for the less fortunate. That summer taught me to be happy for who I am and what I have. I will forever cherish every moment of every day because things could be worse.