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Volunteering in my community is a personal passion of mine. Most people feel refreshed after playing a sport, playing an instrument, or even taking a bath; I get my stress relief from volunteering. I do a lot of different work, like the walk for diabetes, the Houston Chevron Marathon, and even the MS150. Most impactful in my life however, is the service I do at my local food bank, where most of my volunteer hours are spent. I have over 500 hours with the Houston Food Bank after over two years of volunteering in the Student Heroes program, which is a volunteer program at the Food Bank for High School Students.

I still remember the first day I volunteered, how I walked through those first double doors and subsequently walked into a moment that would change my life forever. Before I entered those doors on February 1st, 2014, I thought I was just going to be stuffing boxes of food and racking up hours for my resume. What I didn’t realize was that I would be doing so much more. Not only was I able to organize mass volunteer groups, but I had the opportunity to actually run programs.

Immediately after each shift, project leaders will announce how many meals were made and that first day I volunteered my heart just exploded with emotion when I realized I helped feed thousands of people and moreover, all the lives I helped impact. As someone who had just been struggling with a math test, dealing with common high school drama, and the usual stress of what it means to be a teenager, I had no idea that on my own I could help my community so much. Actually hearing a physical number of meals that I had made, changed the way I viewed my world. My problems compared to those struggling suddenly seemed so little compared to this ocean I had just dived into. No longer was my volunteer effort about how my resume looked, but rather how I could change the world that day.

After that first day, I came to the Houston Food Bank nearly every Saturday I could. I woke up every Saturday morning at 5:00 am to drive downtown, with a smile on my face from start to finish. I put a goal on my mind every time I started a project and that was to help my community. After two years of participating in the program, it still amazes me how much one person can do.

The Student Hero Program really helps put into perspective how much a few young people can really do to affect the whole Houston area. After years of hard work and dedication I became the director of the entire program. I started the program as just a member but after a year of being a participant, I helped innovate and change the structure of the program. Just this past summer we tripled the number of Student Heroes from the year before and we made a total of half a million meals!

Making a difference is something I love to do. When I go to volunteer, I leave all my personal problems at the door and I focus on helping others in my community. It’s all worth it when I leave for the day and I experience true happiness. It feels so amazing to know that I’m helping people who are food insecure in my area. When they receive a box of food, it isn’t just a box, it’s letting each and every person who needs help know that they aren’t alone and they are still cared about in our community.

Knowing I’m at least impacting one life every time I volunteer makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than I am. 

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