Sitting on my bed in a small room in a small town, I am required to reflect on all the service I have completed this school year in the name of helping others. I am required to document the various occasions I put forth my effort and time without receiving monetary compensation. However, the true value of this reflection lies beyond the requirements. It’s the people I met, smiles I saw, thank you’s I received; my volunteerism memories never consist of bullet pointed occasions, but of the things I learned in the midst of those new situations. All of these things remind me why I love to volunteer, because as I sit in my room on my bed, I realize just how small I am in comparison to the grand network of positive outcomes that arise when I take time to serve others.
One of my favorite experiences serving this year was working with the Non-Profit organization Real Food Grows and my own Registered Student Organization, Campus Grow, to bring a farmers market to the campus of Central Michigan University. This project was one of the biggest service projects I have ever been a part of. It required about 5 intense months of my efforts, time, and attention. I began focusing on the Market near the end of May 2015 and eventually actually ended the market season in the third week of October 2015. I ended up putting in well over 150 hours of hard work and dedication to that cause and walked away with more than my fair share of new friends, connections, knowledge on the inner-workings of farmers markets, non-profit businesses and small scale university politics a bit as well. I am just now beginning again to start work for the next market, hopefully turning my once large service project into a continuing tradition at CMU.
Another experience I had this year with service was a bit more unexpected, yet still quite unforgettable. I spent a day volunteering with friends at a local high school cross country meet. I have never been into sports and didn’t know the first thing about cross country. This lack of knowledge rendered me slightly useless at first and so I was asked to simply direct parking for a few hours, but there did come a time that day where I was called to the finish line and asked to work with a small group of people on timing and counting people as they ran in. The whole atmosphere of the meet and the tasks I was presented were so new to me and I find it so very interesting the attitudes and mind set of people involved in the world of running/sports. Although it’s most likely not anything I would enthusiastically sign myself up for again, I am quite happy to have had the opportunity to learn a bit about the sport and witness first hand an event full of those that love it.