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Friday, April 21, 2017
Celebrating the life of our members and community
The WOTM Chapter 1773 awarded the 2017 Community Service Scholarship to
Chase Davis after choosing her essay from five essays received as part of an essay contest that was developed as a proactive approach on volunteerism. Donations and fundraisers held throughout the year raised $725 for the scholarship which was awarded during Citrus High Schools Senior Awards Night in May. This is her winning entry.

Serving Your Community
AND WHAT IT MEANS TO ME.
by Chase Davis, Citrus High School, Senior Class 2017

When I was 14-years-old a little girl from the Washington Heights apartment complex in Jacksonville, Florida wrapped her arms around my neck and said to me: “You’re my sister.” At that point we’d only known each other for about half an hour, and after that humid day in June spent volunteering at a church sponsored “block party” for her community, I never saw her again. However, anytime I hear the words “volunteer work” or “community service,” I see Jasmine holding her arms up to me and asking to go down the water slide.

At school, the concept of “community service” often seems to be branded a chore-like activity: show up, do what you’re told, and get your Bright Future sheet signed.

Hours are a necessity for anyone applying for a scholarship or admittance to the National Honor Society - so for many students, service is just an item to check off their “high school to-do list.” I include this in my essay in an attempt to paint an honest picture, and I will admit that there have been times I’ve grown frustrated when a service opportunity and fun event coincide on the same weekend - its a human reaction. However, I mention the “bad” so I can highlight the “good.”

When you encounter an individual or a group who genuinely desire to serve their community, you’ve discovered something more than gold. There’s nothing in the world more honest than working to benefit your neighbor with a sincere desire for nothing in return.

When you’re little and you play “store” or “shopkeeper” in Kindergarten, you use the class set of fake money to pay for plastic hamburgers and foam apples. You’re taught that when you give the shopkeeper money, you get something in return: “give and get.”

But volunteerism teaches something else: “give”. That’s it. It’s a simple but incredible concept. I spoke earlier of my experience volunteering at a block party in Jacksonville, FL.

I went into the experience with excitement, knowing I would have a good time and that I was likely to leave the apartment complex with that “warm and fuzzy” feeling you get after helping others. Instead, I left with a better understanding of the aforementioned concept: “give.”

I won’t pretend I’ve got a full grasp on it, I’m not Mother Theresa and I could be doing so much more - but it means something more to me. Volunteer work isn’t a pastime or a scholarship necessity - it’s an opportunity to impact another person. It’s an incredible chance to use something more valuable and scare than money - time - to make the world a better place than it was when you woke up that morning.

So many people choose to look at the world in such a negative light: they complain about how society has gone downhill and see nothing they can compliment.

Well I’ve got something to direct their attention to: teenagers wrapping Christmas gifts for families in need. Students scrubbing the floors at a nursery for low income families. Men and women volunteering at animal hospitals and shelters to take care of creatures who can’t always take care of themselves. Theatre students dressing up as zombies to raise money for kids at their high school who don;t have enough to eat over the weekends.

Sure, bad things happen in this world - but good things happen too, often under the name of “volunteerism.” All of the examples mentioned above are things that I have wit-nessed firsthand.

The art of exchanging one’s time to benefit others is perhaps often the most forgotten and overlooked expression of human love and kindness - and if I could I would shine a spotlight on it for all the world to see, I would. Not because I think volunteers do it for the glory, that’s not in the job description at all, but because I think everyone in the world would feel better if they took a dose of “service.”

Imagine the Mary Poppins classic reworded: “A spoonful of service helps the pessimism fizzle out.” It may be cheesy, but it’s true. Charitable work and donations of time often benefit the volunteer more than those they are working to serve. That statement is cliche and probably used all the time, but only because it’s true. I’ going for honesty, remember?

I’ve never felt better than I have in the moments I see my actions bring a smile to the face of another with no demand for compensation.

A lot of things in life are important to me, but if I wanted to condense them to a sentence, I could say this: my family, my friends, my faith, and my service. God’s put me on this Earth for a reason, I know that - and I feel as close as possible to that statement when I’m serving the people around me. I don’t say that to brag. I say it because it’s the truth.

Volunteerism and serving my community is a way for me to find purpose, joy and utilize the time I’ve been given in a way that matters. It provides me with the opportunities to positively impact the world around me by simply just being me.
Most of all, it provides me with moments like the ones I spent holding Jasmine, listening to her whisper about her dream of becoming a police officer when perhaps no one else would lend an ear.

The WOTM Chapter 1773 Community Service Scholarship has been approved again for the 2017-2018 school year.

If you would like to contribute to the 2018 Community Service Scholarship, please make your donation check out to WOTM Chapter #1773, and earmark it in the memo line: “CS Scholarship.” Mail your donations to: WOTM Chapter #1773, P.O. Box 2653, Inverness, FL 34451-2653.
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