Being a community contributor means giving back in any way you can. Not only does it instill lifelong qualities and build friendships, but it also mobilizes and grows the caring power in the community.
I was first drawn to volunteerism after my parents encouraged me to join Girl Scouts. They implanted the value of volunteering and the importance of giving back to the community since I was a young girl. To this day, they inspire me to continue acts of volunteerism and remain an active member of the community. They help me stay involved by doing monthly donations to the food bank and showing the importance of giving.
Throughout high school I was interested in finding ways to be more involved with my community. I joined organizations such as the National Honors Society and Key Club. I participated in adopt a family holiday drives and run book drives. Furthermore, I thought there was more I could do personally, so I began to organize a toiletry drive. The drive focused on soaps and personal care items to be donated to a homeless shelter in my hometown. What started as an idea, came full circle with the help of others who helped kick start this initiative by donating essential items.
Going to college did not stop me from me wanting to give back to my community and continue the toiletry drive. Normally, I would receive donations from friends and family, but after joining the East Stroudsburg University (ESU) field hockey, many of the toiletries I gathered were given to me by fellow teammates. When we traveled for away games, they were able to save their shampoos, conditioners and soaps from the hotels and give them to me to put in the packages for the needy. From all the donations I received, I was able to put together over 150 sets to donate to the homeless shelter in 2019. This year, we have started the drive early to help those that are having a difficult time with the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Although being a student-athlete can be chaotic, I think volunteering is beneficial to balancing my schedule. While participating in athletics I am given more structure and encouraged to keep my grades up. Despite being a college student in the honors program and a Division II athlete, I can always make time to help others. In fact, being a student-athlete at East Stroudsburg provides me with many opportunities as well. ESU field hockey coaches Sandy Miller and Katie Ord are very supportive and instrumental in creating opportunities for us to volunteer and give back to the community. They organized the participation in activities such as a Black Lives Matter post, and an NCAA initiative about educating youth about field hockey when we participated in the 2019 NCAA Division II Final Four. Although online learning has been challenging, it has given me the time to engage in more volunteering activities. I was able to participate in the ceremonial flag planting on Memorial Day and in scouting for food Thanksgiving food drives on the weekends. I have held onto the values my parents and coaches instilled upon me which has inspired me to continue my volunteerism career throughout my college experience.
East Stroudsburg field hockey cultivates a culture where we are inspired to be the best version of ourselves. We have a three-part mission statement one part being, “represent with integrity.” I can see no better way to embody this statement than to give back to my community. I am fortunate to be as blessed as I am and to have the ability to help others. There is no better satisfaction than to know that you have done something good for others. As the holiday season approaches, I am excited to donate a Thanksgiving holiday basket, be more involved with the adopt a family drive and continual the annual toiletry drive. It’s during these times that I reflect on the blessings I have received and look for other opportunities to benefit my community.