Student Volunteer Connection
A volunteering interview by: emily
Chelsea Whittington volunteering with Student Volunteer Connection at Texas State University as a chair member. Student Volunteer Connection or SVC is a charter organization with Texas State that helps students find volunteer, internship, community service, and leadership opportunities. SVC is composed of students who all have a role to participate with the organization for assure we are meeting the needs of our students. Chelsea was responsible for organizing an alternative spring break trip called, Bobcat break. Chelsea is responsible for organizing the funding for the trip, the location for the trip, where we will stay, what non profit we will volunteer with, the dates, food, transportation, sleeping and showering arrangements, outings, team building and reflection activities and of course fun. Chelsea is responsible for promoting the trip and deciding who is selected to go. At the beginning of the semester SVC sends an email to all Texas State students and they are required to answer essay questions about their past volunteer experiences, and their desire to volunteer and participate on this trip. They are also required to answer questions about leadership, teamwork, and conflict resolution. The trip was so popular this past semester that we had 3 different trips, with 3 different non-profits and locations. She has volunteered with SVC for two years, and will go onto be the president next semester. The bobcat break trip has become a core component for members in SVC and has grown so much that her position has divided into 4 roles in the coming semesters.
Chelsea says that “Christ’s endless compassion and selflessness to do all things in love” has inspired me to volunteer. It may sound clique but that’s what has inspired me. She says “If you put it into physical embodiment my parents and they way they showed love to those around us. Chelsea says “I have also been on some form of mission trip every year since I was twelve, and all of those people have helped create my volunteerism attitude and drive. All of those people encouraged me to volunteer. Chelsea believes that part of getting settled in a new community is to volunteer. Chelsea says, “When I find myself in a new town, I seek out service opportunities to embed myself in the community and culture. Through exposure to these new people, lifestyles, and traditions I have broadened my horizons and gained a better understanding of myself and where my passion lies.” She believes volunteering is a way to bring cohesion to any group. Chelsea says she is building a connection and a relationship with the community, and your community is such a large identifier of who you we are. She has become a part of and the people she’s interacting with they are doing the same. There is no discrimination during volunteering, its humbling and positive for everyone because for that moment you are not an independent person helping a disabled person, you need each other equally.
The Aha! moment…
Chelsea has learned from volunteering about different cultures, people, experiences, and circumstances. She says she has learned about how to be a better leader and a better person by communicating better, and she has learned to become very flexible when put on the spot or in situations of high stress and necessity. Chelsea says that there is a lot to get out of volunteering. She’s learned how to create better and more diverse opportunities with multiple organizations and how to attract a variety of people to particular volunteer positions. She’s learned about the diverse backgrounds that people have come from and how to understand their hardships. She has learned to always be grateful for what she has received from life, and that there will always be people less fortunate that need help. She said she has also learned that it is a great way to become part of a community and meet new people. She has learned endless skills that are applicable to the real world. She’s learned about a variety of populations that will help her with her career and personal goals. She also has learned how to work with different people at the same time, and be open to change on short notice. She’s learned a variety of skills that otherwise would be difficult or unavailable to learn through traditional means, such as building houses in habitat for humanity, or making clothing. She’s also learned the value of what she can give back to her community and to others.
To summarize it in three words…
Why should you do this
Chelsea says “This is a quote I feel strongly about, that’s very common but never overused “you find yourself in the service of others” -xxxxxxxx Chelsea has volunteered in nursing homes, women’s groups, teaching art lessons to disadvantaged children and she knows all these volunteering opportunities are not for everyone. Chelsea says, “I have found that my love for people is deep and my civic engagement reflects that. Whether I’m busting it out on the dance floor at dance for disabilities or teaching community art lessons I’m building a connection and relationship with the community I have become a part of, and the people I’m interacting with are doing the same.” Maybe cleaning a highway or singing in a nursing home isn’t for you. Do not be discouraged. Chelsea says that True Vineyard Ministries fell perfectly between her passion for empowering women and her love for jewelry. She was able to help Rwandan widows have work, learn life skills and build a house. So maybe cleaning a highway or singing in a nursing home isn’t for you, but don’t get discouraged. There are so many opportunities for beautiful experiences just waiting to happen. All you need to do is log off your computer and getting out there to do a little exploring in your own backyard. She also says always remember “Do all things in love, because why would you do them in any other means?”