The Value in Volunteering

by Danielle (a.k.a. "DVF"!)

Note from fresh ink: It’s spring break time, so Caroline is off to warmer climates (while making sure to SPF liberally!) and Hannah is bundled up at home recuperating from the double-whammy of illness and midterms that hit her this past week. Fresh ink will take a short hiatus for the next week or so, but we’ve got a great post lined up for you today, so enjoy!

Today’s post is from Danielle, a recent Georgetown University graduate who has made serving others her full-time job (literally!). Danielle is that friend who is always willing to lend a hand and will be there whenever you need her. Thanks for the guest post, Danielle!

I just finished the book “Big Citizenship: How Pragmatic Idealism Can Bring Out the Best in America” by Alan Khazei. Khazei, who started City Year with his Harvard Law School classmate Michael Brown, and ran for U.S. Senate in the special election in 2009, is a champion of public service. In light of the 2003 campaign to save Americorp, he started Be the Change Inc. in 2007. This book is an impetus for the type of social change that he has worked for, and outlines his model for a Service Nation. It was an incredibly inspirational book, which made me start thinking about how great the world could be if we all dedicated ourselves to work for the greater good.

My entire life has been dedicated to service. Whether through constituent services while working as an intern on Capitol Hill, volunteering for different causes as Chair of the Student Athlete Advisory Council at Georgetown University, or volunteering for Women’s Lunch Place, service defines my purpose on the planet.

Last weekend, I actually did something pretty crazy. I jumped in the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of the winter. No, Hannah’s friend DVF hasn’t gone off the deep end, it was an event to raise money for the Special Olympics. I live in Boston, where there is still snow on the ground, and it was about 20 degrees outside. Along with more than 300 others, I spent my Saturday morning on the beach in the snow. We had a beach party, including water balloons, and then stormed into the ocean. It was an amazing event, but what meant the most to me was meeting the special needs children and adults in attendance. They were incredibly positive, and we had a great time bonding. The event ended up raising more than $100,000, but what it really raised was hope.

I still volunteer at a soup kitchen and tutor student athletes in the Boston Public Schools, but now I get paid to make a difference. I am the assistant to the CEO at Reach Out and Read, a national early childhood literacy organization. When children between the ages of six months and five years old visit a pediatrician’s office, our doctors provide that child with a book, and encourage the parents to read to their children for twenty minutes a day. This prepares America’s youngest children for success in school, and serves 3.9 million children annually. It is a great organization, where we all share a passion for changing the future by investing in our children. For more information, “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

I highly recommend that everyone volunteer, even for an hour a week. It keeps you humble, helps you find yourself, and improves the world around you. If you are looking for opportunities in your area, check out Alan Khazei’s website or go to And so, I hope that, as your midterms are winding down or you continue to count down to spring time at your “real job” that you will find a way to give back to your community. For, as Mahatma Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service of others.”


~ by freshinkblog on March 4, 2011.

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