Hi, my name is Kailey Favaro. I am a Sophomore at St. Olaf College studying English and Media Studies and I am nowhere near the poster child for volunteering.
I volunteered all throughout high school. I was in National Honors Society and Gator Link. The two Crystal Lake South organizations were established to give back to the community, requiring hours of volunteer work from their participants. Yet even then, I only just skirted by with enough volunteer hours for the two of them. Then my lackluster volunteer record continued as I started my first year of college. I, like many freshmen, signed up for way too many extracurricular activities. My Google calendar was filled to the brim with work and choir and academics and friends and a million other things. Unsurprisingly, when volunteering was no longer required of me as it was in high school, my hours volunteering dwindled to almost zero.
I have struggled, as I think many people do, putting forth the time to volunteer. “Busy” for the typical high school or college student means absolutely no time for yourself let alone time to give to help others. Time becomes more and more precious as time goes on. But the struggles I had (and continue to have) give me, I think, a different perspective on volunteering. It is because I am not the poster child that I am excited to write this piece. And honestly, is there really a perfect volunteer out there?
At one point during my freshman year, I became frustrated with time itself. I think many people have had this moment. The “what am I even doing with my time? Why does it keep disappearing? Are the things I am doing worth my time?” moment. I needed something different than sitting in my room rereading that statistics chapter over and over that I probably wasn’t going to remember anyway. So, one afternoon late January, I jumped in a van and went to a Feed My Starving Children event. I didn’t know anyone, I wasn’t part of the FMSC group, but I went. I prayed over food, scooped rice into a funnel, met a few people, and left. The event only lasted a few hours but on that cold January day, those few hours were exactly what I needed. I was energized. I felt like my time suddenly became worth something again. Every moment translated into helping someone else, and when I was there, I couldn’t think about homework or stress or the overwhelming life of a college student. It was a relief to do something that wasn’t programmed in my Google calendar. I was still as busy as ever, but time volunteering was more worth it. And it was. Because at the end of the day, I didn’t remember that physics chapter I was rereading. But I did remember every moment volunteering.
I can’t say much changed after that. I was still an over committed college student and still struggled with time (does one ever win the battle against an overbooked schedule?). When summer came, my schedule opened up. I was used to having every moment scheduled as “busy” therefore summer was a shock to my system. So, I spent my weekdays volunteering and weekends working. I volunteered at Senior Services and the Volunteer Center. Instead of a typical summer job serving burgers, I was doing social media marketing for the two businesses. I was gaining experience in the media field, meeting amazing people, and using my skills to help others. Volunteering once again gave me a new purpose for my time.
I am still far from the poster child for volunteering. Despite racking up enough volunteer hours this summer to make NHS and Gator Link proud, I will probably continue to struggle this upcoming year. However, volunteering, especially as a student, is worth it. The people, the opportunities, the experiences, and the humbling notion of giving back are worth it. Because honestly, rereading that psychology chapter doesn’t stand a chance against an hour volunteering.
Kailey Favaro is this month's guest blogger. She is a full time college student and a social media and marketing volunteer at the Volunteer Center of McHenry County.
Program & Outreach Director for VCMC