By Sarah Franklin
Elm Staff Writer
This year I had the opportunity to become involved with two organizations: the Service Council & Students Helping Honduras (SHH). I have thoroughly enjoyed working with both organizations because they have positively impacted my life. Serving in these organizations has allowed me to analyze what should be a priority in my life; my perspective on life has been shaped by serving. There is more to life than living your own life and serving has reiterated this important life lesson by becoming involved with SHH and the Service Council.
The Service Council is a club on campus which allows students to volunteer and become involved with service on campus, in Chestertown, and on the national and global scale. This past year the Service Council has fundraised for numerous organizations such as Charity Water and has participated in many events including the Earth Day Festival. This past year I was the head of the local committee and I had the opportunity to become involved with serving the local community of Chestertown.
The local community, as well as the members of the service council, worked in collaboration with Heron Point, the local retirement community, in order to provide a Valentine’s Day prom for the residents. The senior citizen prom was held at Heron Point one day before Valentine’s Day and students from Washington College were invited to attend the celebration. The prom had the feeling of Valentine’s Day due to the decorations and the ambiance from the band that played love songs from various decades. During the prom, many students and residents were dancing up a storm on the dance floor, and a couple from Heron Point won the dance competition. There were several awards at the prom, including best dressed and a prom king and queen. It was a great opportunity to provide a prom for residents of Heron Point. Valentine’s Day can be hard for the residents because many have lost loved ones and may be lonely; the prom allowed the residents to celebrate with students. The prom was a success due to those who volunteered and the residents of the Heron Point. The service council will be collaborating with Heron Point for this upcoming year and we hope to make the senior citizen prom an annual event.
The second organization I become involved with was SHH. It is a new club to WC; the goal of the chapter was to raise $2000 to send to the national organization in order to support the education and empowerment fund, the Villa Soleada children home, and the Villa Soleada business project. The club was able to reach its goal through numerous bake sales as well as a movie night.
SHH organization offers service trips to Honduras during the winter, spring, and summer. In January, five students from WC went. This trip was an amazing opportunity to be able to see first hand the poverty and to better understand the issues Honduras faces. In Honduras, the average educational level is second grade: in relation to the United Stares, their schooling would be comparable to a kindergarten education. While we were in Honduras, we were able to help teach at a local school in Port Venir teaching children multiplication, division, science, and arts and crafts.
One of the main projects for the volunteers during the winter was laying the foundation for the library. Members of Villa Soleada were so grateful; they have never had an opportunity to own a book let alone a library that allows the children to receive a proper education.
One of the most intersting moments during the trip was when we visited the state orphanage. It had an appearance of a jail and the orphanage was at maximum capacity. The children were separated into three age groups: infants, three to five year olds, and five years and older. These children longed for attention and yearned for physical contact. While at the orphanage, I was able to spend time with the three to five year olds. I fell in love with two of the girls and I wanted to bring them back to the United States. It was difficult to see the children in such deplorable conditions. Many of the children suffered health conditions due to lack of resources. The trip to the state orphanage was extremely emotional but I would not trade my time spent with the children for a minute. I know that I provided some much needed love and attention for the children for a brief time. Traveling to Honduras was such an amazing opportunity and I have truly been touched by such wonderful people and will never forget my experience.
I would like to challenge every student at WC to become involved in an organization or club. This past year I have enjoyed serving others in Chestertown and Honduras. When you serve others, you not only impact the lives of others, but your own as well. Your perspective on life will be changed and you will learn to be grateful and satisfied.
I challenge the WC community to become involved and become passionate in the organizations around campus. Serving others allows you to step out of your comfort zone and becomes tremendously rewarding.