Community Service: How being a helping hand enriched my Ohio State Newark experience

Roman Lee, public affairs, 2021

Community service goes a long way and has a positive impact on the issues, people and community being served. I love volunteering because community service is one of my core guiding principles. The Ohio State University at Newark gave me the opportunity to not only learn and set myself up for my future career, but also to continue volunteering in both the campus and Newark community. I was a part of Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge, Journey Campus Ministries, COTC Ambassadors and the Laurel Collegiate Society. I served as the student body president of Ohio State Newark and Central Ohio Technical College. In my opinion, service to others is very crucial today because society faces many social, economic, racial and political obstacles that strike a divide among people. I see taking time out of my busy schedule to give back as a way to not only give back to those in need, but also to establish a connection with someone who comes from a different walk of life.

I first learned the importance of service from my mother who taught me to live a selfless life. I’m also driven to help others due to the experiences I had as a child growing up on the west side of Cincinnati, Ohio, in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood in a single-parent household. Because of the actions of others to help us, my mother always taught us to lend a hand to those in need and to never ignore issues that may occur in our world. One memorable moment of selflessness and generosity was when my mother reached out to a homeless man who didn’t have enough money for a single banana at a grocery store despite our own struggles. My mother took a sandwich, pop and bag of chips from our groceries and gave it to the homeless man sitting outside the store in the cold. My mother later told us, “He needed it more than us. We may be struggling but there are some people out there with absolutely nothing. Never be selfish. If you can give, then you should give.” Her words and that simple act of kindness made an impact on me and how I decided to carry myself from then on. Because of her words, I started to help those in my community with cleanups or by doing lawn work for elderly neighbors who couldn’t. Doing service in the community was reinforced during my years at Elder High School. I’ve discovered that service is an action that can make a big difference in difficult situations. It can bring attention to critical issues that affect our communities.

When I came to Ohio State Newark, my experiences of community service drastically expanded. I joined the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge enabling me to go on two spring break trips to help build homes for those in need in Fort Smith, Arkansas and Monroe, North Carolina. Both trips taught me the importance of giving time to not only help one person but a whole family. I was able to help put a roof over a family’s head to provide a place for shelter, comfort and growth. I got to meet different people who have been affected by poverty or hard times in more ways than one. I also got the opportunity to build relationships with my peers who participated and those who oversaw the building of the homes. I learned why they do it and why the organization means so much to them. Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge expanded my eagerness to help others in need. It also pushed me to challenge my peers to pay attention to issues that we face and to think of someone else when throwing away food or clothes that could be donated. Participation in community service expanded my knowledge of the world’s growing issues and inspired me to seek out more ways to aid communities. These experiences have helped me to decide what to focus on with my degree and what I can strive to accomplish every day. My college career and values as an individual are not complete without community service. Service to others helps build important characteristics within ourselves and makes a difference. My Ohio State Newark experience wouldn’t have been the same or complete without my involvement in community service.

Service to others will always be something that drives me to seek ways to fix issues that grip our communities. Ask yourself, ‘What am I doing for others? What could I do right now to help?’ There is no greater feeling than lending a hand to those in need and creating a positive connection with those around you.

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