By Laura Sanchez, VI Form
Life is a gift and to live well is truly a luxury. In this world, there are things that one does not necessarily understand the importance of, until he or she is put in the shoes of those affected by it. This concept can be applied directly to community service. Those who do not dedicate their lives to some form of service typically do not understand what it is like to live wanting. Putting money in a cup, spending a week in a foreign country, picking up trash for a school requirement, and buying a bracelet to support Haiti are not examples of adequate involvement. Generally, we as citizens of a greater planet are simply not doing enough. That, among other things, is why I give back.
My work with the world around me comes from a genuine sense of appreciation for all that I have ever received: the clothes, the coaching, the mentors, the books, the scholarships, the neighbors who fed us, the schools who have given me more than I could have ever asked for. The biggest blessings in our lives are the ones we do not recognize as blessings. With my parents being immigrants of a foreign land and my growing up under the poverty line, I developed an understanding of the difference between needs and wants, which to me is a blessing. Those who are born with bountiful opportunities are blessed with the bliss of ignorance, possibly unknowing or unable to sympathize with those who have not been gifted.
There are so many things that we can change. As children, the world allows us to dream and as teenagers the world cynically teaches us to carve out pieces of it and make it realistic. Though I am not the poster child of world peace, I have a desire for justice and equity among the people of our world and our country. I started small. I saw that children in an afterschool program did not get Christmas gifts or had academic supplies, so I raised money and awareness for them. I read that there were over a million people in the United States alone who were homeless, so I held a contest to collect clothes and supplies to ship out to companies who distributed it directly to those people. I saw a video of a little girl sending out a card to her father for Christmas and ads to send out to soldiers for the holidays, so I gathered a group of St. Markers to write over 100 cards and ship them. In my community, there was not enough awareness of the people who have made our lives easier as people of color or of different identities, so I held a contest to see who in school could recognize the wonderful things that our leaders have done for our country and our world. It is as easy as it sounds. Find a cause and fall in love with it. When you find a passion you build a group who is willing to go above and beyond providing those who they help make a smarter, stronger, and more hopeful population.
If you have the opportunity to make an impact, than why would you not take it? If your inspiration to help others is to rid yourself of guilt, to win a prize, or to get college recognition–that is a start but it is not enough. Always give back. Always give more of yourself than others have given to you. There is always someone who is better off or worse off than you, give anyway. Remember that your incentive is to see the world shine a little brighter and make your life more worthwhile. Keep yourself busy and step out of your comfort zone; it is a beautiful thing to get your hands dirty and to really get to know yourself and your limits. Work and discover, and the world will gift you with blessings in a manner you will not have expected, like it has for me.
Laura Sanchez is a VI Former from Boston, MA. She headed the SHADES affinity group and played a big role in the Cats’ Meow, the Choir, and the yearbook. Laughing and having fun are her hobbies as well.