For volunteers, it is crucial to reflect on your service and acknowledge the significant difference you have caused. I personally struggle every time I am asked to put my volunteer experiences into words. Volunteering, for me, is an out-of-body experience. It is not something I think about; it is something I am instinctively programmed to do. I credit this passion to my Girl Scouting career, which began when I was 6. I may not be able to build a perfect fire, but I have a heart that wants to serve others.
Some people search years to discover their service passion, but I was fortunate enough to discover mine in my junior high school years. It was then that I became best friends with a boy fighting muscular dystrophy and it was then that I became a volunteer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. MDA is the world's leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and other neuromuscular diseases. I cannot adequately describe the joy I receive when volunteering for MDA's annual summer camp as a counselor, nor can I describe how much I love my campers and pray for their good health. I am constantly searching for new, exciting ways to advocate for MDA, which has led me to compete in half-marathons. Last May, I raised over $900 for MDA summer camp through my half-marathon fundraising efforts, and I hope to surpass that total this coming May.
Towson University offers its students a cornucopia of volunteer opportunities and I am so grateful to have the chance to take advantage of them. I entered my freshman year as a participant in Project Serve, a pre-orientation program aimed at introducing incoming freshmen and transfer students to service opportunities both on and off campus. During the past two years, I have continued to volunteer during Project Serve as a lead facilitator. The Big Event at Towson University is the largest day of service on campus. A group of dedicated students plan year-round to make this event as successful and as big as it can be. My role on the planning committee has evolved from coordinating the service sites to, this year, being the director. Although the majority of my recent volunteer experience involves planning for other people to volunteer, I get my volunteer "fix" from participating in more short-term service events. These events include, but are not limited to, Relay for Life, Alternative Break Connections — a service program through Towson — and visiting local non-profits.
I do not volunteer for the service hours, the resume boost, or out of obligation. I volunteer for the experience, for the unforgettable friendships and stories. I am passionate about sharing my dedication to service with others and inspiring them to become passionate as well. I accomplish this not only by sharing my service stories with others, but also by inviting them to join me. Most people want to be more involved in their community but they do not know where to start.
Here's a secret: No matter how long you have been volunteering, coordinating service for others, leading student groups or organizing events, there's always more to learn and more to experience. If you have volunteered for only one day of your life or every day of your life, I challenge you to experience something new. Support a cause that you know nothing about. Volunteer with a group of strangers. I challenge you to rediscover "the service high." There is nothing more rewarding than a life dedicated to the service of others.
The Volunteer Voices section highlights outstanding volunteers in the Baltimore County area. If you're a volunteer and are interested in submitting to the series, please email email@example.com.