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Impacting Our Environment

The single most enduring lesson has been the importance of service to the community –– actively engaging those around you. Unfortunately, I’ve never been one to act or speak without prior solicitation, without some manner of directive to follow, a prompt to which I can respond. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I’m uncomfortable exposing myself –– like crawling out on some thin and wispy branch, perilous and precarious, clinging, always fearful of collapse. Consequently, I’ve never been involved as I would have liked. I’ve done my fair share of volunteering, mainly for local (i.e. Mankato) political candidates, but only because it was convenient. Either the candidate would be a family friend or teacher, or my friends would be interns rounding up the weekly herd for parades or phonebanks. Never have I really gone out of my way to help. Marching in parades, I’d be quick to grab the banner or a sign because I didn’t want to distribute stickers or campaign literature –– even that basic level of interaction, asking someone if they wanted a flyer or a sticker, made me uncomfortable. Trivial as it may seem, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was exposing myself (before you think I’m just flat pathetic, I’ll add that stickers were never a real problem. I managed to give them out cheerily enough. In fact, my discomfort was common –– nobody wanted sticker duty, but we swallowed our irrational fear of four-year-olds prowling for stickers and shored ourselves up). Basically, the whole point of this –– I went on a bit longer than I expected –– is that I am grateful for the opportunity (forced volunteerism though it may be) to engage and interact with the community in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise have done. Though I am still following a directive to fulfil a requirement, and have therefore not yet demonstrated a capacity for real proactive engagement (i.e. totally unsolicited and by one’s own volition), I am still stepping outside of my comfort zone, for this is not simply born of convenience –– far from it, in fact... (don't be surprised if you see this again as part of a volunteer journal)

I sort of lost where I was going with all of that, so I’ll just say it straight: to impact my environment, I would simply continue volunteering. Helping children attain “developmental assets? –– the proprietary term used by my volunteer organization –– seems very important and is the most elementary way by which to exact change in the environment and in the world at large. Fostering positive relationships, investing in children as resources, and maintaining a positive, productive, and above all caring work environment are essential assets that promote success and prosperity.