Service from the Heart

Stephanie - Louisville, Kentucky
Entered on May 7, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

John Andrew Holmes Jr. once said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up”. I firmly believe in this statement and fully live out its meaning each and every day of my life.

My particular love of service began in the summer of 2007. I had been invited to attend a justice walking retreat, focusing on helping those in need in the downtown and surrounding areas of Louisville. On the first day, all of the attendees were separated into small groups and given certain service stations at which they would be volunteering for the rest of the week. My group was assigned to work with adults with mental disabilities.

Throughout the week, I spent about 15 hours volunteering at Active Day, a center for adults who would not otherwise get the care that they needed during the day when family members were at work. While volunteering there, I learned a very important lesson about what it means to reach out to those in need. At first, things seemed pretty normal. I helped with crafts, played more games of jingo than some play in their entire lives, and drew pictures with members who were undercover artists. What I didn’t realize was that through those crafts and games of jingo, I was getting to know the people on a more and more personal level each day. I learned that, even though these people were faced with struggles in their everyday lives, each one of them was still able to get up and get dropped off at Active Day with a huge smile on their face. Just taking five minutes to talk with the people about their personal interests meant the world to them.

When people volunteer at service stations like Active Day, they are there to help out with the people in need. The real beauty of doing service, though, is that the person doing the volunteering is often more affected by the experience than the people they are trying to help. Sure, the people appreciated every second that I spent talking with them at Active Day, but the experience affected me deep down, spiritually. To me, doing service for others gives an adrenaline rush to the soul. The effects of it are beyond what any words could measure. As Helen Keller says, “I am only one, But still I am one. I cannot do everything, But still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do”. This I believe.