“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” - Audrey Hepburn. For my first service project I choose to volunteer at veterans village. This was a very eye opening for me because I don’t have anyone personally in the military but I moved to a military town when I was ten.
Being from Jacksonville and having two military bases near by I always see veterans and in my head I had this preconceived notion that all veterans were wealthy when they came out I mean they had just served our nation why wouldn’t they be able to live a comfortable life once they got out. So to go to an apartment complex for veterans who were in a transitional period was so interesting to me. This project fits in perfectly with my major because I want to be an elementary school teacher. How does this fit in? Well I want to work in a title nine school, which is 100%, funded by the government, so all of the kids I will be working with will live in the projects and their own parents will be going through a transitional period as well. Working with the veterans showed me that not all people who live in government funded homes are drug or alcohol addicts in fact most if not all of them looked like nice upstanding men who just don’t know what they want to do in life yet.
At my core I believe in love and respect. So this project has everything to do with that. The love aspect is covered from seeing all of the college students take time out of their crazy schedule to cook or buy supplies to bring to the veterans. WE all have lives outside of school so to take the 1-2 hours out of our day to go and help those less fortunate says something all on its own. I firmly believe that by going and making someone else’s day by a simple act is a sign of love. Sure I may never see these men again but I like to believe that by my one thing of chicken wings or by the one normal conversation then that small slice of goodness transferred over to them filling their heart with a little bit of happiness and love.
No matter who you are I think that we all have respect for the men and woman in the military but these men that we served deserved a different type of respect. You had to have respect for the fact that yes their life may be a little rocky and mess but you had to respect the fact that they did not want to be looked at or treated any differently due to this. These men wanted to be looked at the same way we look at our peers. You had to go in there and respect that boundary and by doing that you really got to connect with the men coming to get food. I learned more about these men and their lives in that one hour by just being genuine and real with them then I think I would have learned in 5 days of serving them in a row.
I like to think by serving these men it impacted them in more ways that I could even imagine. These men are transitioning from the military and adjusting back into society so I would hope that by serving these men it provided with a feeling of belonging, community and acceptance. With the stress of trying to find a job get food reconnect with loved ones wondering where their next meal will come from is something that they shouldn’t worry about. By doing this for them I think that it provides the men with the feeling of hope if they are having a hard time being back. Being kids coming and spending time with them I feel like it may give them hope that there is still good in the world after the war or wherever they may have been.
Overall this project was more eye opening and inspiring then I ever thought it would be. At the beginning of the semester you said that we don’t need a college degree to change the world. At first I had the mindset that you don’t need it but it certainly would help, however after this experience helping those who may have a degree changed that. It made me realize a paper with some fancy title doesn’t define me, I define myself and I can change the world one small act of kindness at a time. “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” - Audrey Hepburn.