From a young age, my mother spent a lot of time getting us actively involved in the community by highlighting the importance of volunteering. For my mother – a single mom working in corporate America – volunteering as a family was a wonderful way to spend time with my brother and I, while still contributing the local community. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve started to realize the importance of those early volunteer experiences in shaping my life. Whether my mother knew it or not, she was teaching me about compassion, empathy, tolerance, gratitude, diversity, and the importance of building relationships. Not to mention, I learned a lesson that has guided me throughout my life: I learned that I have the power to make positive change.
My mother would emphasize volunteering as important to building our resumes, when in reality she was trying to provide us with experiences that transcended job readiness. Serving meals at the local homeless shelter or collecting school supplies for underserved kids didn’t build my work ethic as much as it exposed me to critical social issues and societal inequalities. By showing children the individuals and areas where help is needed in the community, you can tap into how they would like to make a difference.
Taking this all into consideration, it only makes sense that I’ve found myself working in the Community-AID Lab. Even though I never envisioned myself as a researcher, the Community-AID lab has shown me the role of research in guiding service work to make a measureable impact. I now find myself surrounded by likeminded and compassionate individuals who are also eager to create positive change in their communities.
Whether you’re a college kid conducting community-based research or a seven year-old handing out water at a 5K race, you’re bound to learn something from the experience.
So, what are you waiting for?