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Max Lerner: Volunteering is a Path I will follow for the rest of my life- B’nai Brith Community Essay Submission

by Max Lerner, age 17, posted August 31, 2012

 

I began doing community service work when I was 14 years old, when I decided to work as a summer daycare volunteer at the Rady Jewish Community Center. I assisted with group activities including games, arts, and leisure. I had a good time working with the kids that summer, but didn’t think that what I was doing was much more than having a good time.

During the school year that followed, I decided to become a peer tutor at Gray Academy. I’m not sure if I decided to peer tutor because I’d had such a good time working with younger kids that summer, but looking back on it, I think the fun that I’d had in my first volunteering experience must have had something to do with my decision to continue volunteering.

As a peer tutor, I helped elementary students in completing their assignments, and directed them in independent studies. I found that this was a different way to have a good time, although this time it was not through fun and games (although we did manage to mix in some fun with the learning that was going on), but instead through helping younger students find their way through problems they were having in their school work. I found a real sense of satisfaction in helping the kids I worked with accomplish their goals, even if the goal was just to work through a particular math problem, or to understand a reading assignment. I know that I got out as much out of those peer tutoring sessions as the kids I was working with.

During that same year, I also decided to volunteer as a campaign worker in the fall federal election, where I distributed campaign materials. I also worked as an office volunteer at the New Lubavitch Learning Centre, where I drafted correspondence to potential donors to raise funds for a new project, and as an office volunteer with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, where I compiled mailing and assisted in office duties.

All of this happened in the 2008 school year. In the 2009 school year, my volunteering was limited to working as a sound technician for a school musical.

At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, the seeds that had been planted in the course of my previous volunteering must have germinated, because in the summer of 2010, just before I entered Grade 11, I spent my entire summer doing volunteer work. I worked as a volunteer at the Fringe Festival, where I sold tickets at various performance venues, prepared and distributed food as a hospitality center host, and directed children’s activities.

That same summer, I also volunteered as an usher at Rainbow Stage, where I scanned tickets and assisted patrons. As well, I also began volunteering at the Grace Hospital Muffin stop, where I served customers, maintained the canteen, and handled cash transactions.

I have continued to work a three hour shift at the Grace Hospital once a week, twelve months of the year, for almost two years now, throughout Grades 11 and 12. Although I’m not performing surgery (for which everyone can be grateful!), I think that in my own small way I am making a contribution to the life of the hospital, and to the lives of the people who are in the hospital for one reason or another. In the course of a shift at the canteen, I interact with patients, visitors and hospital staff. It’s not the muffins and coffee that we’re serving that makes the biggest difference: it’s the time we’re able to spend with people who may need a friendly word during a difficult time.

For the past year, I have also acted as a volunteer pallbearer for the Chesed Shel Emes Funeral Chapel, for individuals in the community who lacked sufficient family to provide same. I realized that working in a hospital and also as a volunteer pallbearer may seem to be going from one extreme to another, but another way to think of it is that volunteering is part of the circle of life.

I have learned a number of things form the time I have spent volunteering, starting with the Rady day care when I was 14 and continuing on through the years to the time I have no spent volunteering at the Grace Hospital.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that many community service is good community service. It doesn’t matter if you are performing a relatively small tasks: it’s almost sure to be meaningful to the person who benefits from it.

Although it sounds like a cliché, I have also found that the more I help others, the more they have helped me. I’m sure that I have received at least as much satisfaction form the time I have spent volunteering as others have received from me.

Finally, I have learned that it also doesn’t matter who or what you’re helping: as long as you’re helping, you’re setting a good example and people will follow in your footsteps. Sometimes, it may just be you following in your own footsteps: once you establish a volunteering path for yourself, it becomes a route that’s easier and easier to follow.

I know that volunteering is a path that I will follow for the rest of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

Date

Hours

Place

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

3 hours

Grace Hospital

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

3 hours

Grace Hospital

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

3 hours

Grace Hospital

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

3 hours

Grace Hospital

 
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