Written by: Shannon Donnelly
When I was in high school, volunteering was the thing to do. We had SERV, which was a national organization promoting students to do volunteer service work and receive an award for doing so at the end of the year. I won’t say there were brawls, but there were definitely mental wars for the person with the most SERV hours in my school. Everyone was doing it, trying to qualify for the 100 hour award, but only so they would have a nationally recognized award on their college transcript. It was all for the wrong reasons but I also fell prey to this way of thinking, though it’s hard not to when everyone is telling you you should be stressed about college applications starting in the 6th grade.
It was very stressful thinking about all the possible things you can do to get into the college you wanted to and volunteer work was always something I thought I could do that would help others, but more importantly something that would help me get into college. I was doing it for myself and not the community or the people that needed my help, which is hard to say but it’s true and I am able to recognize that now.
It wasn’t until I moved here about 2 years ago that I realized just how much I really missed volunteering in a community that I truly wanted to see thrive. So, I looked into organizations and services around Boone where I thought I could really learn something and leave a mark. I joined BRWIA’s summer internship and in just my short amount of time here, I have learned just how much work it takes day-to-day to run a non-profit. It’s an extremely arduous task to create and actually go through with an event when budgeting is always an issue. I’m sure I had some idea about this before volunteering here, but it was something I never gave much thought to. BRWIA, to me, is a wonderful and needed organization that almost everyone in Boone has heard of because of their great impact.
Previously, my volunteer experience has always been fun and I’ve learned about various things throughout all of them, but my internship with BRWIA will be the most impactful simply because I get to experience and see where my efforts, and the efforts of those who work everyday at the office here, really pay off. I’ve called Boone home for two years now and I love it just as much as where I grew up. I wanted a place I could volunteer my time and efforts, but not just for me this time, I wanted to do something for a place I had fallen in love with. I wanted to devote time to something that I really believed in and wanted to be a part of. I had heard of BRWIA on campus, around town, and on Facebook Events, and in the back of my head I had always thought about how great they were for Boone. Ever since I moved here I have wanted to make a positive impact that will hopefully last for a while and I think my involvement with BRWIA can do just that and more. I regret not doing as much as I could have and volunteering for the wrong reasons previously where I grew up, but I’m not looking to make that same mistake here too.