VU would be nothing without its volunteers. We appreciate them immensely and love to have high school students volunteer because they relate to the younger students so well. Therefore, it‘s particularly gratifying to share this reflection from a college student who volunteered with VU from the time she was a high school freshman until she graduated and headed to college.
I first started volunteering at Vecinos Unidos during my freshmen year of high school. Volunteering, I was told, was a buzzword for college recruiters. “Colleges love to see volunteering on your resume,” my counselor informed me. “Just great, I thought to myself. “Now I had to volunteer on top of everything else, as if I had all the time in the world.”
But volunteering at Vecinos Unidos wasn’t just any volunteering–it was actually exciting. I was amazed at how receptive and eager some of the children were to learn. Some even wanted to go beyond what was taught in school. I remember one particular instance back in 2010. I was teaching one boy how to do double-digit multiplication. Not only did he master the concept quickly, he was also interested in learning how to mentally do the multiplication problems. And when I taught him some shortcuts, he was so happy and so thankful. Even now, I can vividly see his smile.
What started as a way to pad my resume has become a way to give back to my community and feel satisfied in doing so. Vecinos Unidos has given me an opportunity to partake in selfless service: of being able to devote my time to someone in need, then to witness first hand their smiles and joy, and in this way, share my skills with them; that, for me, is the best and most fulfilling reward in life.