This I Believe

Krista - Blauvelt, New York
Entered on September 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in helping others. I believe that one person can make a difference, and that seemingly small contributions can have a significant impact on society. Sometimes individuals can make a difference without predicting the full magnitude of their actions.

During Senior year of high school, my Girl Scout troop considered various projects that would help us fulfill the requirements of the Gold Award. The Gold Award is the highest honor in Girl Scouting, requiring a minimum of 65 service hours per person. Eventually we decided to renovate a residence for mentally disabled adults in our community. We chose this project because the home was in significant disrepair, and received limited state funding.

Our primary objective was to improve the living conditions of the residents. Initially, our project involved cleaning and basic improvements such as painting and decorating. To accomplish our goal we obtained donations of paint from a paint manufacturer, and gift cards from national retailers, such as Target, which were used to purchase needed items. We also remodeled the common areas through various furniture donations. Furthermore, we collected clothing donations and received donations of personal hygiene products from local dentist and doctors offices.

But when our troop was featured in our local newspaper, the scope of our project expanded beyond our original objectives. A local window manufacture volunteered to replace all of the windows in the house, and we persuaded pavers to re-pave the driveway. In addition, plumbers and electricians donated time and materials to complete much needed repairs.

However, during the renovations, the State threatened to terminate funding and close the home. Despite this looming closure, we did not discontinue our work. Conversely, we became more devoted to the project than ever before. Each girl volunteered to exceed the minimum required hours. Specifically, we hosted Sunday dinners and held a Thanksgiving dinner to remind the residents that we had no intentions of abandoning them, although it seemed that the State had.

To our surprise, our commitment to this project persuaded the State to continue funding the residence. Ultimately, our contributions were recognized by the County legislature when we were each awarded a certificate of achievement. Before beginning our project we never would have imagined that the actions of 12 young girls could get the attention an entire community, local politicians, and ultimately influence change in legislation.

My experience has encouraged me to continue helping others whenever possible. Since then I have volunteered for the American Cancer Society to support Breast Cancer research. On my college campus I am also an active member of Students In Free Enterprise, in which students volunteer to help new or struggling businesses in the community restore their business. Furthermore, I helped to establish a Chapter of Keep A Child Alive, which raises money to provide prescription medications to children in Africa living with AIDS.

Although I know I will not always see the full effects of my contributions. I continue to believe I can make a difference.