(Student Essay Fall 2015)
“We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that,” said by the one and only, Ellen Degeneres. This has got to be one of the best quotes I have ever heard. There is always room for more kindness, more compassion, more joy and more laughter and overtime, I think society has forgotten about that. It is easier to pass someone on the side of the road who is in need rather than to pull over and help them. It is easier to cry over the small things rather than to smile and move on. It is easier doing these things in the moment of them but in the long run it pays off to go that extra mile, whether it is helping those in need or laughing every once in a while. I know I used to get upset over the smallest things and I used to watch things from afar but as I am continuing to mature and grow, I have realized the importance of lending a helping hand, not just for that person, but also for yourself. When you do good, you feel good.
For my service project, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to give back to the Veterans. They have sacrificed so much, even risking their life, to keep us safe. I have great admiration and respect for these men and women. I welcomed the opportunity to show my appreciation. I originally intended on giving makeup tutorials to the women but some of them weren’t up for that so then I thought of crafting. I love to see what people can make using their imagination and I knew it would be a fun way to get to know some of them. I picked up picture frames and ornaments and brought in paint and ribbon so they could personalize it and have fun with it. They seemed to love the crafts and it was rewarding seeing them light up when they saw all of the fun stuff.
On my way out the door, Ron, one of the Veterans, was standing up talking to a couple people so I joined in on the conversation and I am so glad I did. Listening to his wisdom was so inspiring. He said a couple of things but the thing he said that stood out the most was when he said “I have a master’s degree in life.” He was talking about how is son is very self absorbed and condescending because he has a master’s degree and Ron’s reply to his son was “I have a master’s degree in life.” This is so important because the wisdom and knowledge you gain by going through real life events and experiences is far more important (in the long run) than a piece of paper saying “Master’s Degree.” Life is so unpredictable that it is crucial to live everyday like it is your last. Living life and gaining wisdom is something school just can’t teach you. I believe a person’s wisdom is the greatest thing they can have. The smile that Ron had on his face when talking about his experience was incredible. I haven’t seen someone that happy in a long time and as a I walked around Veteran’s Village and interacted with them, I realized that everyone had a smile on their face. That is pretty incredible knowing what they have been through and where they are now, compared to some people who have everything and have a frown on their face. Materialistic things do not buy you happiness, but gratefulness does and that is what every Veteran has. They are so grateful to be surrounded by people who are willing to take time out of their day to come help them and talk with them.
Glenis, another Veteran, was talking to Destiny and I and was explaining his current position at the elementary school where he teaches. He said that one of his students picked up a chair and threw it across the room, another one locked himself in the bathroom and would not come out and another one called him the “N” word for a straight hour. He was telling us all of this with the biggest smile on his face. He said he loves his students no matter what and I could tell his smile was because of his gratefulness of his job. Not many people could go through all of that and continue to have a positive attitude, but he did and not to mention that he is a veteran so I can’t even imagine the other, more negative stuff, he went through in combat.
This was so much more than a service project to me. It changed my perspective on a lot of things, especially materialistic things. It is so important to just be happy and focus on the positive rather than the negative and be thankful for what you have and not wanting more. This experience gave me even more motivation to get through school and make something out of myself and live everyday like it is the last. I learned that helping out in anyway, even if it doesn’t seem like much, is appreciated. It was very rewarding giving back and making new friends. I cannot wait to go back and continue helping the Veterans. All of their smiles are something I will never forget. Anytime I am down about something or something doesn’t go my way, I am going to think of them. If they can be positive and smile and laugh, then so can I!