This I Believe

Diana - Lewistown, Pennsylvania
Entered on June 10, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

The Power of Service

I believe that volunteering has the power to change lives, especially the life of the servant.

When I first left for college, I did not know my entire outlook on life would change. However, attending Waynesburg University—a school founded on the integration of faith, learning, and serving—I should have anticipated a change in my life.

I remember Spring Break of freshman year. While most of the other students were packing to leave for home, I was packing to go to Philadelphia on a mission trip. Living four hours away from college, I didn’t have the chance to go home often. Nevertheless, about 20 students and staff (all hesitant to go, like myself) loaded into vans and drove to Philadelphia. I know we are all glad we did.

Serving at a soup kitchen located in a homeless shelter, I had the opportunity to speak to some of the homeless. Growing up in a small town in central Pennsylvania, I knew there was poverty around. However, I always thought that the homeless were lazy and just did not want to work. I was extremely wrong.

My friends and I spoke to a man in Philadelphia who told us he went to college for criminal justice, but decided to instead “become a criminal” by selling drugs on the street. Over the fried chicken we prepared, he said that he was changing his life and encouraged us to stay in school and work hard to achieve our goals. We also had the opportunity to speak to people who worked part-time or full-time jobs, but who still couldn’t afford housing in the city.

During Spring Break this year, I had the opportunity to fly to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Here we served at a home for severely disabled children. Before I left for the trip, I was stressed from midterms and had been overall feeling discontented about my life. Again, service changed me, and I left the trip feeling truly blessed.

Every morning in Jamaica, our group awoke to the sounds of wailing children who were being bathed in freezing cold water; we never had hot water. Watching the children—most of whom could not talk or walk—being spoon-fed and seeing the smiles on their faces, made me realize that I should be grateful for everything I have. College midterms cannot compare to other problems in the world.

By doing service throughout my college career, I know I helped countless people. However, from a “thank you” received at a soup kitchen to the smile on the face of a child, I realized that service has completely changed my life.