Thursday, April 8, 2010

Volunteerism - The Most Important Thing

“Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart.”
I believe that when one goes to college they found out who they really are -- lives change and veer into directions not known. This happened to me at St. Mikes. Volunteerism took over my life. Thanks to the programs in the Move office, I have been able to find an outlet for my passion to help others. Sure classes and grades are important, but truthfully, your impact on the world matters more. In his inaugural address, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy made a plea to all Americans, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” How do I answer this plea to help America? I serve. I volunteer. Although it has caused stress in my life, often due to over involvement, I still follow my heart and continue my work because I trust that it is what the right thing to do is. 
The program that I most heavily am involved with is International Outreach Homework Club. Early in my first semester, I signed up for this program thinking that it would be an outlet to continue tutoring those who were having difficulty in class, but little did I know, I would find so much more. The city of Winooski, VT, unbeknownst to so many, has a large refugee population that includes refugees from countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. International Outreach Homework Club works with students in the ELL (English Language Learners) programs at both JFK Elementary School and JFK Middle School. These students, who range from those who can read a book, to those who can read a sentence, to those who struggle with sounding a letter, work so hard to achieve in American schools and I am honored to have the opportunity to work with them and help them achieve their goals. Since the beginning of this semester, I have become the coordinator of International Outreach Club and am now responsible for recruiting volunteers and making sure the program runs smoothly on a weekly basis. Fortunately, I am still able to work hands on with the students. I can truly say I have learned so much from these kids. I have learned what it is like to help someone who truly is lost in his or her learning. One day when I was working at the middle school, one my students stated, "I think I'm just going to get an F because there is no hope for me." This statement made my heart plummet, my student wanted to give up because she felt she could not ever succeed. America is a country where dreams CAN come true. For refugees, it is a safe haven, a place to attain a better life. In little ways, I hope that I am helping my students to attain this better life when I work with them every Monday and Tuesday. 
Working with ELL students has become my passion. This is not something I would ever get the opportunity to do in my small town in Rhode Island. I am so thankful to MJ Jaird (my predecessor) for creating this program and inviting me to take part, for it has truly truly changed my life. I encourage all of you to sign up for a program -- no matter what school you go to or where you are in the world, I hope that you sign up to Volunteer. I promise you, with the fullest sincerity of heart, there is no better joy that can be felt than the joy of helping others. 
Until next time - Peace, Love, and Hugs, 

1 comment:

  1. Hey Josh, I am so proud of what a wonderful young man you have become. You are doing some of the same things that I did in college. I volunteered at a shelter program tutoring kids who were struggling. It is such an important thing and can change lives. I think of you often and I am so glad you are doing so well. Love you lots. Auntie Dawn