‘I learned to love serving others’
Editor’s note: Maddy Carroll was recently honored with 22 fellow Bettendorf High School students for her service in her school, church, and community. She was part of the inaugural group that earned the Bettendorf Service Letter, and Maddy was chosen by her peers to be one of two students to speak at the ceremony. Here is the essay that helped her earn the letter.
Over the past year or so I have had plenty of opportunities to volunteer. Although I did take most of them, I wish I would have done more. In each different volunteer opportunity I learned something new about myself. Volunteering has taught me a lot and I hope it’ll only continue to help me grow as a person.
Since freshman year, I have gone on three mission trips with my church and each time I have learned something new. Every trip, we travel to a city and serve at many different sites there for about a week. Some of the cities that I have gone to are Minneapolis, Kansas City, Detroit, and St. Louis. This past summer was the St. Louis trip, here we served at different sites each day. Some of the sites involved working with people and others were manual labor. I learned that I really enjoy both! At one site I got to sit and talk with nursing home residents and help keep them company. Getting to know people is amazing even if it’s just spending time with them for a couple hours or so is such a good feeling. Manual labor is also very rewarding. At one of our sites we weeded and mulched paths for a bird sanctuary. They were low on staff that summer and did not have time to do the job themselves; it felt really good to know the work we did really meant something to them.
But, my favorite volunteer experience I’ve ever been a part of was being an assistant counselor at Camp Shalom for two weeks. Doing this I learned so much about myself. During the time I spent at camp I was involved in a lot of different things. Each day you have a schedule and get to do different fun activities around the camp, and through these you really bond with your campers. After spending an entire week with one group of girls and really getting to know them, you feel like a family. I went into the two weeks expecting to be a role model for my campers and that they would learn from the person I was. But by the end of the weeks I had realized that I had learned more from my campers than they probably had from me. They all had amazing personalities and were not even a little afraid to be completely themselves. I learned so much from them and decided I would be myself from that moment on and not worry about if I was being judged or not.
Each volunteer experience was very different and unforgettable in its own way. I learned to love serving others and it has become one of my favorite things ever. I have grown so much from each experience and learned many lessons I will never forget. I have also made memories that will last a lifetime and friendships I know will never fade. Volunteering my time has been one of the most amazing things I could ever have asked for in life.