“The world does not revolve around you.” While most kids have heard this line from time to time-I can attest that my parents meant it. However they did not just mean being a whiney kid would not be tolerated. Included was the message each one of us is part of the community and it is both our honor and our obligation to care for those less fortunate than ourselves. In our home, tzedakah, meant, and still means, giving not just with dollars and cents but with hands and heart. For me, serving my community began and continued throughout my childhood as a member of the Girl Scouts as well as through my participation in multiple school-based groups including Helping Hands and SADD.
In the beginning of Girl Scouts, I enjoyed the projects and snacks, but as time went on, I realized that our activities were making a difference. For example, playing board games with the elderly each week made them smile-and gave them something to look forward to every Sunday.
As Girl Scouts progressed I completed both my Bronze and Silver Awards and am currently a candidate for the Gold Award. For the Bronze Award, I worked with my troop to beautify the local middle school’s courtyard, cleaning up what was already in the garden and planting more flowers around the school.
The Silver Award took on greater meaning as, I, along with three fellow troop members, created a healthy cookbook for the families at our local Ronald McDonald House. When we first began visiting the Ronald McDonald House we made sweet treats for the residents and their families to enjoy. However, we quickly realized that’s what many volunteers were making and the reality is they were not healthy choices for people who needed to focus on nutritious eating for their overall health. Our project morphed into fun fruit and vegetable creations. At the end of the program we turned this into a cookbook which we left for the families to enjoy and create their own healthy snacks.
My passion for serving the community runs deep. My parents may have made clear from the beginning that giving back was a family priority, but they did not just say it, they both live it. Every day my father contributes his time and energy to serving our local Jewish Community Center and is its current Board President. Not once have I seen him turn down a request for help from this organization nor the many others in which he is involved. My mother, similarly, contributes not only to our community-based educational and religious organizations, but she has stood by my side as my Girl Scout leader since I was just a Brownie. It is with their teachings and their strength to guide me that I look forward to continuing to help those around me-now and in the future. I know the world does not revolve around me-but I hope to make the days and lives of those I can reach spin with just a little more strength and a little more joy. In our home, giving back is known as “tikkun olam,” or “world repair.” I feel that through my volunteer work I have only just begun my share of tikkun olam. Through my continuous actions , I plan to help repair the world, even just a little bit.