The following essay on community service was written by Georgia Dahill-Fuchel, a middle schooler, enrolled in City Congregation’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Students spend a year and a half researching their heritage, values and beliefs, and write on a Jewish subject of their choice, their major project; they also perform 13 hours of community service, and write about it. An example of this component can be seen below. The process improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as their self confidence and overall maturity.
I am more comfortable giving help than receiving it. Therefore, providing community service feels natural to me. Because I feel comfortable doing community service, I turned to the communities I am already a part of. I belong to many different communities: in my building, in my school, in my mom’s school, in my dance school, at The Wild Bird Fund and at The City Congregation.
In my building, I have done some small acts of community service that still seem meaningful even though they are small. The simple act of opening the door for someone, or holding the door for someone who is carrying something heavy is meaningful. And I have done something bigger. During the time of Hurricane Sandy, schools were closed for several days. There are lots of kids in my building who didn’t have much to do as they were stuck at home with schools closed. So I decided (with the help of my mother) to grab some books off of my shelf and read to the kids in my building in the lobby. Lots of kids showed up, and it was great fun to read The Lorax and other old favorites to them.
Also after Hurricane Sandy, I went with my parents and my dad’s colleague to Coney Island, where there was great devastation. We carried large heavy boxes full of food, water, batteries and other necessities to buildings that were hit hard and still didn’t have electricity to run the elevators. I live in a neighborhood where the storm did not hit very hard, so it was shocking to see places where the storm’s impact was severe.
At my school, The Computer School, I have done some community service as well. One day a teacher came into my homeroom and asked me to go with her. As I walked with her down the hallway, she explained to me that there was a girl who transferred to our school who didn’t speak English. At first I thought she must speak Spanish. Perhaps my teacher knew I spoke Spanish and thought I could help her. However, I was wrong. This girl was from Korea. My job was to help make her part of the extraordinary family that is The Computer School by helping her to meet people, understand where she had to go, what the assignments were and provide any help she might need. She is now well adjusted and has many friends. At my school I have also done some small acts of community service such as folding programs, creating signs for a banquet, working at the Art Expo, and doing errands for teachers when asked.
Four years ago, my amazing mom helped open a high school on our block. Since then, I have helped teachers at her school and done lots of community service there: making goody bags for teachers; helping teachers decorate their rooms; helping them set up their classrooms at the end of the summer; getting them food and drinks when they needed them; filing papers; organizing closets and cabinets and desks. And I have cleaned.
My mom used to volunteer at a place called The Wild Bird Fund. They take care of birds and other animals such as opossums, then release them back into the wild when they are healthy. At the Wild Bird Fund, I have given birds their medicine, fed them, but most of all I have fostered them in my house. I have even fostered pigeons and a chick one time! It was a big surprise when I walked in the door and my mom told me there was something in my room for me, and there on my bed was a baby chicken! I got to experience how much work it is to take care of animals in your own house. The chick drove us slightly insane with it’s constant chirping!
The value of community service is not only giving back to the community, but also the feeling of accomplishment it gives you. It makes you feel like you are useful. In addition, community service has given me a better perspective on how much effort it takes to make something work. For instance, most kids walk into a beautifully decorated classroom and do not think about how much work was put into it. I am not judging kids, because I have done the same thing. However, if you help set up a classroom yourself, you get to see how much effort it requires. Lastly, I tend to enjoy helping people because I like seeing the improvements I have created.