When I started confirmation classes, following my Bar Mitzvah, I had no idea that in order to complete the program I needed 18 hours of community service work. I had already begun volunteering at CentraState Hospital when I was 14 years old, the required age. At the same time, I decided to volunteer at the religious school and became a teacher’s aide one day a week. When I initially began my volunteer work it was simply to do “good things” for the community as opposed to fulfilling a requirement. Additionally, I believe that completing the Mitzvah Program for my Bar Mitzvah started me on this path to performing community service and realizing that in life we must all help others and give back to our community in some way.
I know that community service is important because it benefits so many people. Most importantly, it has become an eye-opening experience for me. While I haven’t worked with underprivileged or handicapped people, I know that I have made a difference. At CentraState Hospital, I have worked in the kitchen hand-washing food trays, making coffee, and delivering food to the rooms. I have also worked the front desk and made various deliveries all over the hospital. Most recently, I have worked in sterilization and folded towels and bagged them for four straight hours. Though these jobs are far from exciting, I know that it has to be done by someone! I currently have little interaction with the patients but I know that I will be able to be more involved with them in the next few years. During a delivery to a patient’s room, I met an elderly woman who looked at my name tag and realized that my dad was her son’s dentist. We had a nice conversation and it put a smile on her face. These are the little rewards that you get from volunteering. At Temple Rodeph Torah, I assisted in a 4th and 7th grade classroom and performed small jobs. I give children a little extra help to improve their Hebrew reading skills. I feel it is important to give back to the temple because that’s where I learned the prayers and much about Judaism. It also makes me feel good to help out because of my strong connection to Judaism and the fact that I am proud to have continued on with my Jewish studies.
By volunteering my time, I know that it has made me a better and more well-rounded person. Last year, I gave up many social and sporting events because I committed my time to the hospital on the weekend. It has taught me to take responsibility for my own actions and attitude. It has also taught me to have compassion and understanding for others. I feel that it’s important for everyone to take part in their community and give back in some significant way.