Why should I volunteer?

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“So why should I volunteer?”

By Autumn Rivera

Last year, I was like most freshman. I was ready to get away from home and learn more about
myself. My roommate and I decided to go to an activities fair, and we were extremely excited to get involved here at Truman State. We knew that we were ready to dive in and do just about anything to meet new people. As we showed up to the activities fair, we saw many opportunities to be proactive here. One table that stood out to me was the Green Thumb Project. I picked up a calendar and a packet and went on my way. That evening I looked it all over and decided to email the program and see how I could get involved. I got a meeting time and learned more about the Green Thumb Project and eventually I began volunteering last year. But many people wonder, “What did you get from volunteering?” So this is what I gained from volunteering:

Learned More About the Garden

When I started in the Early Children Learning Center Garden, I thought I was going to know everything that I could possibly teach these kids. But that was the opposite of what happened, in my opinion. I learned much more than I thought I was going to. I learned what it really takes to take care of a garden. This garden isn’t very large, but it takes many people to get it going the way it was envisioned from the beginning. I also learned the importance of garden maintenance and how much of a difference it could make. I learned that the weather could make or break the season. The list goes on and on.

Learned More About Myself

People always talk about how children really are the ones that teach adults lessons, and I found this to be completely true when I volunteered for the Green Thumb Project. These kids taught me that nothing is impossible. That you can turn a leaf into a frog jumping across the muddy pond. You can dream to fly as high as the butterflies and be as free as the birds. The kids are a good reminder of that. You also learn lifelong skills that only come from hands-on experience as a volunteer. I also learned how much I cared about the garden, and I had lost that feeling within the recent years.

Learned About the Children

I had the privilege of not only learning more about myself, but also learning about the children. I’m a psychology major at Truman State University and I am focused on pursuing a career in children’s psychology. So having the ability to watch the children interact with each other and being able to see the different stages through the different ages I’ve had the chance to interact with during our time in the garden.

Learned More About the Importance of Taking Care of the World Around Me

The children didn’t understand why we weren’t taking care of our planet. They wanted to run around in the grass and play in the dirt, but they couldn’t understand when I said that we are being harsh and not taking care of our Earth at the same time. They wanted to recycle more and wanted to help clean up the trash. They saw what we were doing wrong and they wanted to fix it.

Learned that I Could Make an Impact

I guess I had forgotten that I have the opportunity to make a difference if I want to. Just having the chance to teach these children has reminded me that anything is possible. Every week they would come back with new ideas and new questions which made me realize that even if I was only changing a few lives, I could make a difference in someone’s life.

That is why I volunteer, why do you?

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