Love Your Community and Give Back

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples”- Mother Teresa

I want you to take a second to think about a memorable person in history. Often when we think of what they did with their life- what job they held, did they do something great such as make something new, stand up to other people, or have an important and impactful job. Now, think about a person in your life that is most memorable. Who did you think of and what is so memorable about them? Usually it is comes down to something they did- either encouraging us to do better, lending a helping hand when needed or simply being there when we needed them the most. My point is that we can impact those around us in so many ways without even realizing it. One way to do this is by community service. Oftentimes, doing community service gives you insight and understanding into what your community needs, the struggles other face, what tasks are required of a certain job, or gives you pride in something outside of yourself.

I know this is the time of year that many students are rushing to complete their community service (since UB hours are due March 1- and we are encouraging our seniors to complete their TN Promise hours so we can put them into the system). The panic has set in…. I only have X number of days to finish the 5 hours (8 hours if TN Promise)!! Stop…. Breathe…..and make a plan.

Start by looking around your community. Do the local elementary or middle schools have any afterschool programs that need help? Are their events at local churches, food pantries, nursing homes, senior citizen buildings, animal shelters etc.? Do you have a local Habitat for Humanity, state park, nonprofit organization that could use help? Other things to consider when researching volunteer opportunities is if there is a cause you are passionate about (you will get more out of it and be more excited to volunteer at a place you feel you are doing something important at) and if there are any volunteer opportunities at a place that would give you insight into jobs you might be interested in (such as animal shelter if you want to be a vet, afterschool program if you want to be a teacher)

Next make a list of 3-5 of those and write down contact information. Before calling think about (and write down) how much time you can give, dates that would work, and any questions you might have about what will be expected (such as is there a certain type of clothes needed, do you need to bring any items, will you be there long enough to need a snack/lunch etc.) Then call and see if they have anything available. When you arrive remember to be polite, enthusiastic, and respectful. Ask for clear instructions on what needs done and then jump in and do it!

Note: Community service is done for people that are not your family-babysitting your neighbors kids doesn’t count, raking your grandparents leaves doesn’t count, extra hours at your current job doesn’t count. If you are not sure whether an activity will count or not please ask your adviser. Now go out, cast a stone and let the ripples begin.


Upward Bound is funded by the U.S. Department of Education & sponsored by Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority Inc.