Community service a labor of love

We’ve all learned that community service is admirable. In the eyes of a student, however, community service may be considered a pain (sometimes literally). Perhaps after having been required to fulfill community service hours in high school, it would most likely be the last thing on our minds when in college. Some academic courses, otherwise known as Service Learning courses, assign a number of hours students must complete doing volunteer work in order to pass. For each semester, Johnson Hall residents must also complete 10 hours of community service in order to pass their GST course (and not get kicked out of the hall). What some may not realize, however, is that volunteering involves more than just meeting the standards of courses.

As a Johnson Hall resident, I can empathize with those who need the hours. Days pass and soon enough, the deadline for all 10 volunteer hours arrives. Sure it’s easy enough to volunteer once and then inflate the number of hours by say, three or four more than one actually completed on the Service Log form. For one thing, it isn’t honest and we all know that disheartening feeling after we have lied about something.

How can one avoid this situation? Despite the lingering due dates for community service and the pressure to meet them on time, there are many opportunities to complete these hours. Well-known organizations include Mentor Oswego, Adopt-a-Grandparent and Habitat for Humanity. Students can also receive upcoming volunteer opportunities on and off-campus through e-mail. This way, students can know ahead of time whether or not they will be available to volunteer.

Though students may not be enthusiastic about getting up and volunteering, getting a few hours out of the way always feels satisfying. With dedication and a willingness to community service, the number of hours needed will steadily lessen over time. Eventually, one will complete the hours required, and feel the stress dissipate knowing that they do not have to think about it anymore.

Though it is a good feeling having gotten it out of the way, doing community service provides more than that. After finishing the hours, students may feel a bit more helpful and their sense of purpose becoming clearer. We all hear the appraisal from others when someone mentions volunteer work. Not to mention it looks great on job resumés. It does feel nice to cross off community service on our long list of requirements in college, whether for residential halls or service learning classes. But it is nothing compared to the feeling of pride in taking the time to benefit others.