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The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

Love, Gaels: ‘A passion for volunteering’

For+this+issues+Love%2C+Gaels+column%2C+Features+%26+Lifestyle+Editor+Luis+Lopez+writes+about+his+experience+in+volunteer+work.
For this issue’s “Love, Gaels” column, Features & Lifestyle Editor Luis Lopez writes about his experience in volunteer work.

When I was 16 years old, I was told by my mother that I should volunteer at our local soup kitchen. I was hesitant to, initially, but I decided to swing by one day after school.  

Once I was there, I immediately fell in love with the environment and volunteering in general, so I began going to the soup kitchen every day after school. Volunteer work to me was a way to break out of my shell and give back to my community. As a result, the experiences helped me grow as a person and are memories that I will never forget.  

During my first day at the soup kitchen, I remember feeling extremely nervous and shy, but the staff were very friendly to me and inviting so I felt comfortable fast. As a volunteer, it was my duty to help those going to the soup kitchen with food and drinks.  

I would start out the evening by serving juice and water to those who wanted some and serving salads to all the attendees. After the salad appetizers were given out, we would begin serving the main course, which would be varying types of protein along with different sides like corn and mashed potatoes. We could cap off the night with dessert and before me and the other volunteers would begin cleaning the dining hall.  

The people I worked with and those who I served became a second family to me of sorts that I would spend my afternoons with each time I went to the soup kitchen. I kept going to the soup kitchen as much as possible, and felt happy and welcomed every time that I would go in.  

I was appointed the title of “super volunteer” and going constantly allowed me to form connections and networking that have benefitted me to this day. Even though it’s been five years since then these experiences still hold a special place in my heart. I recently returned to the soup kitchen to check in following the rough patches it had during the pandemic and it warms my heart to see that the program is going strong with no signs of slowing down. 

When I reflect on my time there, it makes me realize how much the experience changed me as a person and how I wouldn’t be who I am today without the time I spent being a volunteer. It showed me the value of giving back, the benefits of being a good person and doing things for the sake of others rather than for personal gain. Many other volunteers would simply go to fulfill their hour requirements and leave once that requirement was filled. It felt like they didn’t even care, but for me, it was a life-changing experience that I will never forget.  

 

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Luis Lopez, Features & Lifestyle Editor

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