- 19 September 2013
- by Jesse Tauber
When I was 9 years old, my mother died after a long battle with alcoholism and anorexia. She was an amazing person, who taught me to do so many things and whose influence on me will never be lost. After her death, I thought about what she would want for me and how I could keep her memory alive. I realized that giving back to my community was a way that I could help people like my mother helped me.
Early in my volunteer career, I started small. I went to food kitchens and helped them organize their shelves. I made food for homeless shelters. But as I grew older, I realized that I could help more people, and people that were like my mom. For my senior internship in high school, I worked at NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association. They help people and their families struggling with eating disorders. I was a helpline volunteer, giving information about ED treatment centers to families who needed help. It was a gratifying feeling knowing that I was making a difference in the lives of people with the same disease as my mom. Even though there was nothing I could do to help my mom as a kid, I knew that I was helping these people and that my mom would be proud.
In addition to helping people like my mom, my mom also inspired me to help people like me. When I was in middle school, I was really badly bullied. I ate in the gym instead of the cafeteria, and I had almost no friends. It eventually got so bad that I had to transfer schools, and for the year that I was bullied, I got all D’s. When I was in high school, I came out. I’m transgender and queer. Combining both of these two aspects of my life, I joined GLSEN (Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network). They help bullied LGBTQ kids, and fight for inclusion in K-12 schools. I now serve on their national advisory council, helping them program their years and serving the community I am so proud to be a part of.
All of these things that I have done would not have been possible without my mom and the values that she instilled in me. I wish she was here to see all the things that I have accomplished.