“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
This quote leaped at me and tugged on my heartstrings I am so happy. My choir director from high school, Ms. Stephanie Coats said this to us every day after performances and during rehearsals and when we did our community service, and this made me think of her. This quote means a lot to me not only because of Coats, but I am an avid reader of Maya Angelou and her words have really contributed to my healing process and character development. So, thank you Soldani for the reminder. Now, to the actual essay.
Ever since I was a little girl, I always knew that my purpose in life was to serve others, I’ve always felt the need to help others and I recently found out of my love languages is Acts of Service. My father always taught me that everyone has a purpose in life and Allah makes sure everyone does and it’s up to you how you choose to use it. My mother told me the same thing, although she did not say Allah (My parents have religious differences, my father is Muslim, and my mother is a Baptist). I used these words as fuel and took initiative to serve my community, so I fed the elderly at Epworth Village, a retirement home in Hialeah, Fl, after performing for them with my Glee Club, painted my school’s mural, etc. Ever since moving to Tallahassee for college I did not have a service project until the Veteran’s Dinner.
Although I don’t think I’d really contributed much to the dinner, I decided to make comfort food and what’s more comforting than homemade baked Mac n’ Cheese? (Okay, maybe mashed potatoes, Arroz Con Leche, or Sopa de Pollo but I knew that was my most praised dish). So, during the week of the dinner I felt ill and missed class (sorry about that again) but when I started feeling a little better, I went to the store and got the ingredients for the Mac.
I was excited for the dinner, but also a little nervous since social settings aren’t my strong suit. However, I baked the Mac & Cheese and loved the process of doing so since I love cooking, so with that, I was in the kitchen baking it with all the love I could. At Veteran’s Village I did not know what to so I stood awkwardly so I observed while making light conversation with Kayla and Krystal and watching the Veterans’ faces and you can just read the gratitude and love on their faces and it was one of the most rewarding thing I’ve ever witnessed.
The dinner made me realize that there is always someone to help and I can always do it if I reach out, I want to help so next semester. I’ll try my best to be something for every dinner or maybe even start my own thing elsewhere I’ve been wanting to teach piano or ASL for so long. I’ll get on that if time warrants so. Everyone has their own thing to contribute to people whether is just be helping veterans or even animals or the environment, park cleanups are something one can participate in. Everyone has their own energy to contribute in a space too, presence means a lot. However, one thing I’ve learned the hard way is that you can help all you want but you can’t spread yourself too thin and it’s better to give your all to one thing than to devote your time and energy you multiple things aimlessly and irresponsibly or half-assed. Insufficient careless work doesn’t get you anywhere especially when giving back to someone else it makes your service seem inauthentic. I am grateful for the Veteran’s Dinner it has reminded me what my purpose is.