Every January, we are inundated with calls to renew our commitment to losing weight, quitting smoking, saving more money, spending more time with family etc. Worthy goals, for sure, but chances are for many, that resolve weakens by February and it’s back to those old habits. This week, our intern and New Canaan High School junior Abby Jenkins shares her thoughts on one resolution she’d like to see her peers keep in 2012. - Rachel
These are the best of times. They are the worst of times. Being a teenager in high school is a period of life that is full of fun, freedom and laughter. It’s also full of angst, competition and stress. With our busy schedules of varsity sports, school events, dances, and friends, not to mention academics, it’s hard to believe that we can actually cram more into our days. But we absolutely can. I’m talking about volunteering.
A lot of the kids I know don’t necessarily see this beautiful window of opportunity, but that’s because most of us have never tried it. Volunteering can be extremely enlightening and uplifting. Just knowing that you made someone’s day or even life better is a beautiful thing. It’s like when you get someone the perfect gift, and seeing their face light up when they rip open that colorful wrapping paper. Even though we’re teens and maybe can’t vote or drive or do a lot of so-called “adult” things yet, we can still make a difference in our communities.
Right now, many of my peers volunteer to boost their college application, hoping it will help them get into that dream school. But regardless of whether we’re doing it out of the goodness of our hearts, or trying to get into our top choice for college, we often find ourselves asking where we can start. And usually, we don’t come up with an answer. There are so many opportunities to help others in our area – it’s just a matter of putting in the effort to learn about the agencies and what they need. I am almost positive there’s a group out there that needs your particular help. Maybe you like to paint? Maybe you’re a whiz at math? Are you a good sports coach? Can you help a kid learn to read? Do you want to run a coat drive? It’s just about finding what you’re good at and passionate about and I promise there’s a match out there for you.
We teenagers can get pretty used to having it easy. Whether it’s a basket of clean laundry, or a delicious meal from our moms, a lot of us have had everything pretty much taken care of for us so far. Rarely, there are occasions when we actually have to do things for ourselves. And even then, it’s usually a minimal task. It’s not until we’re thrust into the adult world when we realize that we actually have to do something with our lives. But why don’t we start now? It is a new year after all, and new years are for new beginnings. We need something to motivate ourselves to take a chance, to actually “do” this year, and to not just sit on the sidelines.
So I am issuing a challenge to my peers here in Fairfield County - why not make 2012 the best year ever by helping our neighbors in need? With renewed hope and thoughtfulness, we teenagers should make 2012 a year to remember, for our communities and ourselves!
If you’d like to get started helping your community by volunteering, visit Fairfield County-based www.volunteersquare.com to search opportunities and learn more about a wide variety of nonprofit agencies in the area. It’s free – and it’s fun!