Editors Note: The DC Service Corps class of 2019 – 2020 introduces themselves through personal reflection on what matters most to them.
I grew up in a very active church community. Both of my parents work at my home parish in Roanoke, Virginia. Therefore, I spent a lot of time there growing up and church became a home away from home for me. Once I got to middle school, I began participating with the youth group at our church. The youth group gave me a close knit friend group full of people who are still a part of my life today. It also helped develop my love for serving others in a tangible way.
With my youth group, I participated on a number of different service projects. We went to food banks and homeless shelters. I loved how I felt when I helped other people, and even more, I loved how serving others helps bring a community together. Once I graduated high school, I realized that if I wanted to serve I had to be the person to make it happen since I was too old to be a part of the youth group.
For some time, I had been interested in joining Habitat for Humanity. I quickly found a way to get involved in my hometown and began to work on the construction sites in surrounding neighborhoods. I was surprised to be the youngest volunteer by a solid 20-40 year margin. I was also usually one of 2-3 women volunteering each time. At first, I was very intimidated by these differences. I was worried that I wouldn’t be taken seriously due to my age and gender. However, these worries faded quickly as I was taught how to complete a wide range of tasks whether that was putting shingles on a roof, using power tools, and putting in floor boards. Habitat for Humanity gave me a sense of empowerment that I was not expecting.
One day, I noticed a person who I attended high school with was working on the house with me. He and I started catching up when I asked: “So are you here for service hours?” and he responded: “Actually, this is my house that’s being built.” Immediately, I was reminded of all the lessons that can be taught through acts of service. At first, I was participating with Habitat because it was something that made me feel better. But here was my former classmate standing in front of me, working on this house because it was required. Another lesson I learned was how you should always treat others with love and kindness because you never know what they are going through.
When I left home for college, I continued serving with Habitat for Humanity and have always remembered this interaction. I truly believe that when we serve others, we grow closer to God and to each other.
“For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.” – Galatians 5:13