Jennifer - Las Vegas, Nevada
Entered on March 14, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: gratitude

I believe in gratitude.

One of my experiences in gratitude, was just last year. National Honor Society held a unique volunteer opportunity. They arranged for us to help homeless kids go shopping for school supplies, hygiene items, and new clothes in something called Operation School Bell. Each member was assigned to one child. I remember the little girl I was paired with. She was seven and extremely shy. The clothes she wore were thin and holey, tattered from over usage and two sizes too small. I introduced myself and held her hand as we shopped for her items. We reached the hair station and she asked if she could have some hairclips. She told me she never had ones as nice as this because the clips her mother never had enough money to buy them. We continued on to the shoe station and helped her pick out adorable purple ones. While helping her take off her shoes I noticed the sole separating from the rest of the shoe. At that point I was almost at tears. To see a child deprived of basic clothing and necessities ; it made me feel so grateful for all that I had. Growing up, I never had to worry about shelter, being clothed, or when my next meal was going to be.

As a senior in high school, I have faced the normal tragedies that every teenage girl faces. The breakups with the boyfriends, fights with parents, and the typical high school mini-dramas. I have never had to deal with it on my own though. They say the people you hang out with define who you are. And I am certainly glad that I am friends with one of the best group of people I have ever known. They’re not the typical friends. When I ask them what my outfit looks like, they have no problem telling me to change. They tell me the truth no matter how much it hurts. But they’re also always there for me when I’m down. Our idea of hanging out consists of sitting in someone’s room and laughing. And sometimes laughter is the best medicine for any bad day.

My Grandpa died last April. Before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he lived a fulfilling life with a huge family for 87 years. The way he lived makes me so grateful to be blessed with such a privileged life. He grew up in poverty in the Philippines, yet made a successful life in the US for his nine children and four adopted children. His love of life has inspired me to never take anything for granted. He taught me that even in a bad situation, there is always something to be grateful for. So when I procrastinate on a ten minute speech due at the end of the week, and scholarship essays bombard me, all during the middle of final exams, I can always be thankful that this year is my last in high school!

Gratitude is something that has grown with me. I’ve come a long ways since being a spoiled only child. Whether its the experiences I have encountered, the people that have been there for me, and the person that has inspired me, I am truly grateful for my life.