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Tips & Advice

Inspired to Serve

When I signed up as a volunteer for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service this year, I had no idea what project I would be assigned. I only knew that I wanted to help serve the New Orleans community in any way that I could, especially on a day that honored a man who had done so much to serve our country. When I received the slip of paper that told me what I would be doing, my heart skipped a beat. Renovating homes.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a great thing to be working on. While New Orleans has taken huge steps forward since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there are still many communities and homes that haven’t fully recovered from the storm’s impact. However, I am not the type of person that one would normally hand a tool to and say, “Go!” I’m more at home with children or gardening. Alright, renovating homes. I could help with that without destroying the home, right?

In what seemed like no time at all, I was at the house with a paint roller in hand. I was partnered with a girl from Xavier University, and the two of us were charged with painting the master bathroom. As I balanced crazily on the edge of the tub in an attempt to reach a corner of the ceiling, a sense of fulfillment came over me despite the humor of the situation. Being assigned to a project I had no experience with may have seemed daunting, but it had given me an amazing opportunity to help others. Not only that, but it was in a manner that I never would have challenged myself to attempt on my own. It was an opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life - and that, to me, was the best thing that I could be doing with my own life.

That sense of fulfillment is one of the best things about volunteering. There is no better feeling than taking a step back and looking at your handiwork, knowing that you helped someone else out; or seeing the smile on children’s faces when they finally understand something that you have taught them. Volunteering is a way to help improve the lives of others - while simultaneously improving yourself.