Student Service Project Reports Summer 2016
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi. Many people throughout history have acknowledged this same wisdom as a focus for true happiness. Personally, I have found that serving others rids us of our selfish ambitions and instead fills us with kindness and sincerity. It gives us a chance to take the focus off of ourselves and our problems, and allows us to bring joy to others.
Veterans have always had a special place in my heart. Serving our country and protecting our nation has got to be the most selfless acts of kindness there is. To lay one’s life down for his friend, and to face death eye to eye on the front line, is the most heroic service anyone can partake in. Veterans, come back from war traumatized by what they see, and sometimes even worse, they come home physically injured. It is my duty as a citizen to repay these men and woman for protecting me, my family, and my country. It is my responsibility to welcome them home with open arms.
Participating in the Veterans Village project has been one of the most rewarding experiences. It was one of the first times that I have served a group of people and it has opened my eyes to the fullness it provides. We were to prepare dinner for a group of veterans that live in transitional housing. These men and woman live at Veterans Village because sometimes, when coming home from combat, not all are welcomed home as they should be. Housing is provided but, they need to find jobs and transition back into a society they haven’t been familiar with for some time.
My responsibility was to make a large salad. So I cut up lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers and mixed them all together in a large bowl. Others brought spaghetti and desert. As the veterans started lining up, I spoke with them briefly about living at the village and how they liked it. Most of them were just grateful for a warm meal and a roof over their head. They mentioned how thankful they were to be back home, but knew they faced challenges in finding jobs and permanent housing. Seeing the smiles and hearing about their hopes and dreams was inspiring.
This experience has hit home to me. Not only because I love and cherish my country and the people that serve in our armed forces, but because I have family that have done the same. My boyfriend is a Marine, and has been all over the world. He has been to Afghanistan and has told me stories of saving lives. He has also told me stories of seeing his friends die in combat, and wears a bracelet around his wrist to commemorate a fallen friend. When returning home, it was not easy for him. Lots of veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In fact, twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide from a lack of treatment and support from their community. A simple meal, and fellowship with these men can do wonders. Just greeting them with a smile, and thanking them for their service, gives them hope and light in their darkness.
In conclusion, I participated in this service project because I wanted to step out of myself, and shine this little light of mine on the darkness that sometimes overtakes us. I myself have suffered with depression. I haven’t seen what these veterans have seen, or by any means experienced anything in comparison, but I think that is why I am so grateful for them. They have risked their own lives so that I can live in freedom. I don’t have to suffer persecution, like other woman in other counties do. I am free because they have laid their lives down for me. Again, I can never do enough to repay them for their sacrifice, but I can do what I can, in giving them hope for a better future and a warm meal. I can give them a smile, and a hug and pray that they find peace, if it is just for an hour. I would love to continue serving the veterans. This gives me motivation to go bigger and serve the homeless, or travel to a poor country and help change the world for the better.