I don’t specifically remember the first time I volunteered, but I remember how it made me feel.
I was 12 years old, in seventh grade. When you’re that age, it’s hard to fully grasp the world outside yourself, but I remember playing pool at the senior center and how excited they were to teach us the game. I can also recall helping at the Special Olympics Track & Field events and how thrilled the athletes were to be there.
Volunteering was a way to take my peers and me outside our comfort zone and teach us how to serve others. I remember it teaching me about my privilege and others’, even though I didn’t have the verbiage for it at the time. This, and more, is what The Call KC hopes to accomplish with local youths in Kansas City.
This year alone, we’ve already helped over 2,500 students complete almost 10,000 service hours. Let that sink in for a moment: 10,000 community service hours completed by over 2,500 kids and teenagers, and we’re not even halfway through the year yet.
We've had the opportunity to teach them about the importance of serving their local community, the importance of hearing other people’s stories, the reality about privilege, about doing something greater than themselves, about giving back when they have the means to do so.
To fund these efforts, we participate in a lot of events: operating 5K’s, feeding the homeless, organizing other local nonprofits, doing yard work and goodness knows what else. And we’re very fortunate as an organization to receive donations for our participation in such events. Do you know what those donations go toward? The kids.
Granted it’s a little more complicated than that, but if you whittle it down to its simplest form, these donations go directly to helping our youth volunteer more in their every day lives. To care more in their every day lives. To love more in their every day lives.
We package all that in our Education Initiative. To state the obvious, kids are our future and by instilling these core values at such a young age — generosity, community service, empathy, understanding, unconditional love — we're helping procure a better future for all of us. By taking our youth out of their worlds and into someone else's, we're allowing them the chance to tear down the walls we so easily construct around ourselves.
By working together, we teach them that underneath our skin color, gender identity, political affiliation, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, we’re all the same. That if we truly want a better future, we’re going to have to work together to make it happen. This is our Education Initiative, and this is where you can help make it possible.
In May we have two huge events that need volunteers — the Downtown Open and the Wanderlust 5K. By volunteering with us at these events, you help earn funds that go directly into the operations of our Education Initiative. By giving us three hours, you're helping thousands of kids learn what it means to love, which in of itself is love — something I was lucky enough to learn at a young age.