By Claudia Dumpson, a Burlingame High School Junior
It was September 2010, and I was caught up with schoolwork, clubs, family, friends and all the other activities I was a part of. I was sitting in math class when an announcement was made about signing up to be a member of the Teen Advocacy Council for an organization called "My New Red Shoes." The announcement said that My New Red Shoes was an organization that helped local homeless children feel confident when they start the school year by providing them with new clothes and shoes. I considered the opportunity, but quickly decided I was too busy for another after-school activity.
The next day, the announcement was made again. This time when I heard it, I paid closer attention to what it said. My New Red Shoes was an organization that helped local homeless children. Homeless kids? In my community? I had never really thought about such a concept; that someone my age, in my town, was living in a homeless shelter, or worse, on the street. Kids just like you and me, who don't have a home to call their own. The idea both shocked and upset me. So, when I got home from school, I went online and signed up to be a part of the Teen Advocacy Council.
As a member of the Teen Advocacy Council (TAC), we learn about homelessness and plan community events to raise money and spread awareness about homelessness in the area. But the best part about TAC, in my opinion, is spending time with the children at a shelter nearby. We've formed friendships with a lot of the kids, and I look forward to spending time with them every week. What inspires me is how happy and carefree the children are, despite their terrible situations. Being around such positive energy makes me thankful for what I have, and motivates me to volunteer in my community even more.
Even though I have only been a member of TAC for a number of months now, it's been such a wonderful experience. I've met new people, made new friends, and learned about myself and the community around me. I've realized that volunteering can be fun and rewarding, not just something you do because you have to. Knowing this, I wish I had begun volunteering earlier.
With this, I challenge you to make a difference somewhere. There's something out there for everyone; you can help out at a homeless shelter, a hospital, animal shelter, church, or even at school. There are infinite possibilities when it comes to volunteering in your community. Whatever you choose to do, you will not regret putting aside yourself in order to help someone else. If you're helping someone else, in the long run, you're helping yourself.