In the Summer of 2016, my mom signed me up to volunteer through Youth Volunteer Corps Hampton Roads (YVCHR). At the time, I didn’t see the point in volunteering. The only thing I knew was that it was taking up my summer. It didn’t take long for my feelings about volunteering to change. Although my first idea of volunteering was a negative one, ultimately volunteering has taught me to be patient, have an open mind, and lead by example.
One of my favorite projects taught me the most about patience. Volunteering at the Gardens of Warwick Forest Nursing Home taught me to be patient and appreciate the moments you have with people. As I hung around the people at the nursing home, I learned about their different needs and their backgrounds. I realized that interacting with different people requires different approaches and attention. This taught me to be patient with everyone because you don’t know the full story of what they’ve been through or what they’re currently going through.
Have an Open Mind
Through volunteering, I learned about YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board (IYAB). When I was selected for IYAB, I was super excited to meet other passionate volunteers. In the last year, I’ve learned so much. One characteristic of the volunteers on IYAB is that they’re all super open-minded. This characteristic washed onto me as the months went on. While discussing ideas for YVC Day, we would go into breakout rooms and discuss with each other. Nobody’s idea was lesser than the other, and although everyone’s ideas may not have been included in the final product, they were all appreciated. When being a part of a group, you want everyone to feel comfortable and open to share. I felt comfortable as soon as I met everyone in IYAB and keeping an open mind is something I’ll apply to any other position I’m in.
Lead by Example
At YVC projects there’s always someone new, which allows me to lead them in the right direction at the project. Their first impression of YVC is important because it determines if they’ll be excited about coming to another project or not. When there are volunteers there to lead them, they feel more comfortable because people are interacting with them. I wouldn’t have the leadership skills that I do today without YVC. I learned the first things about leadership in this program and I’m very thankful for it.
Become a Volunteer
Without my first volunteer experience with YVCHR, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. To be a volunteer with Youth Volunteer Corps means to be patient, open-minded, and lead by example at all times. I’ve been able to contribute all of these lessons to my daily life. So, let me invite you to volunteer. Find a YVC in your area and get started today!
About the Author
Akilah is a junior at Smithfield High School, residing in Smithfield, Virginia. In school, she participates in National Beta Club, Varsity Volleyball, and the YVC club at her school. Being a part of Youth Volunteer Corps Hampton Roads since the seventh grade, her love for volunteering has grown passionately over the years. She’s always looking forward to helping others in her community and further. She’s excited to work with the other amazing volunteers on IYAB and make a positive impact on the organization!