A Reason to Help | Teen Ink

A Reason to Help

October 19, 2019
By kfchicken BRONZE, Ch, New Jersey
kfchicken BRONZE, Ch, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” 

— Audrey Hepburn

When I made the decision to participate in a summer volunteer mission in Philadelphia at the very last second, I wasn’t aware in the slightest of how much it would come to change me. I’ve always thought Philadelphia was mostly composed of two types of people—the upperclassmen that I would find walking down the streets in suits, and the homeless that I knew would be sitting under the bridges with their signs—any help appreciated; even a smile helps—but that turned out to be the very surface of what the Philadelphia community actually was. Throughout the week our volunteer group travelled to numerous different places within the city, and at each of the locations, brokenness was exposed to me through so many more ways I ever could have ever imagined. 

In an effort to revitalize a broken community, my volunteer team and I travelled around the city of Philadelphia to provide organizations with the help they would need in order to serve others. This included tasks along the lines of weeding, painting, food packaging, sorting toys, and helping out at an event for kids. I had never noticed how dejected everything was right beside me until it was shoved into my face. I felt the same vulnerability emitted from people I met throughout the week who had made some decisions they’d later come to regret, which helped me connect and speak with them even as an introverted and awkward individual who didn’t know what to say. But despite the amount of sadness the city of Philadelphia contains, the attitudes of the people I met were truly incredible. Being surrounded by people who were constantly forgiving and compassionate about giving back to the community really gave me a sense of gratefulness for things like my own house and living conditions. I learned from them how to grow from my experiences and love the people around me.

We humans all have a different story to tell, but I learned that underneath all of that, we can all learn to connect with each other. I realized that helping is not only to help the ones that need it, but it can also be used to help myself grow. Although I originally intended to participate merely for the volunteer hours, what I got was so much more than I had expected. Not only did the volunteer work help me grow and strengthen relationships I chose to neglect in the past, but it gave me a taste of what hope could mean in a community with people who are willing to help. In this case, it is just around the corner; although small, our efforts can truly mark a watershed for change in the world around us.

The author's comments:

Community service is generally thought to be a tedious, boring task completed merely for school. What is not usually brought to light is how much it can reveal about yourself and the community. Recently, I chose to participate in a volunteer trip in Philadelphia for these exact reasons, but what I have taken out of it has inspired me to write an article about my experience.

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