A Little Service Goes a Long WayFebruary 27, 2013
Growing up with a big family meant that I learned at an early age how to step up and help others. My mom also made sure that service was not just about family but about reaching out to others in our community. When I was younger, community service was a kind of family outing; now, in college, I gravitate toward leadership positions that involve a component of community service. One of my most memorable experiences was with the Rawlings Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program when we visited the Baltimore Station, a residential treatment program for homeless veterans. At the site, we served dinner and played games with the veterans. We learned about each other’s experiences.
One of the most important lessons that community service offers is that we have much in common with people from all walks of life and all ranges of experiences. Even though we were much younger than the men at the Baltimore Station, we were able to encourage and inspire them to complete their program. This act taught me that leadership and service go hand in hand: By taking the time to listen and understand, a leader can motivate others to become the people that they’ve always wanted to be.
At AAUW’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL), we also recognize the benefits of community service learning. Plenty of research points to the increased self-efficacy, higher academic achievement, improved problem-solving, and enhanced civic engagement that even small acts of service can produce. This year’s NCCWSL will feature optional pre-conference activities with Food & Friends and District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH). Food & Friends volunteers will work with the Slice ‘n Dice crew to help prepare meals and pack groceries for people in the Washington, D.C., area who are facing life-threatening illnesses. DASH participants will help clean and prepare a local playground and organize a resource area for residents.
Self-help author Susan Jeffers says, “Knowing that we can make a difference in this world is a great motivator. How can we know this and not be involved?” Register for one of these options at NCCWSL for $25. Spaces are limited so register today and start your NCCWSL experience by giving back to the community!
This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Nzinga Shury.