Northwest Vegetarian Exhibition, Seattle, Washington

A volunteering interview by: Khalid Saliem

Yasir completed a total of 60 hours of volunteering for his community during his high school years. When he volunteered at the Northwest Vegetarian Exhibition at the downtown Seattle exhibition hall he helped from beginning to end. He also volunteered early in the morning at the Loyal Heights Community Centers annual Easter Egg Hunt. Most of the hours he completed were with the Greener Seattle Foundation, there he and a group of volunteers would go to trails and parks such as Discovery Park and the Burke Gilman trail.

Yasir believes that when volunteering he will be able to gain more skills and knowledge, and where he can share with others what he learned from school, his family and the community where he grew. He thought that, volunteering at the Northwest Vegetarian Exhibition was an exciting opportunity for him to see cooking demonstrations by chefs from all over the country; hear the latest information on nutrition from medical doctors, and also he saw over 700 samples of food were brought to the exhibition.

At the Exhibition Hall downtown he volunteered with the Northwest Vegetarian Expo, there he would help set up the booths and line them up with all of their intended goods, from healthy greens to vegetarian and vegan refreshments, always looking to see which area needed some help restocking supplies.

With the Greener Seattle Foundation, he’d worked with a savvy crew of volunteers to help remove invasive plant life (i.e. blackberries) from Seattle’s parks and trails, replacing them with fresh and healthy plants and soil to keep our state green. When volunteering at the annual Easter Egg Hunt for the Loyal Heights Community Center, he helped set up the activities for children and place Easter eggs around the Center’s playgrounds as well as providing snacks and refreshments for them to enjoy after the egg hunt and before the fun activities were set up.

The Inspiration

Yasir has been inspired by his mother and father as well as his aunt heavily who would help him get to his volunteering opportunities. Having a 60 hour volunteer requirement to graduate from high school was a part of the inspiration, but the reinforcements from his family and friends gave him the push he needed to put himself out there and help his community.

He did not forget to mention his grandpa, whom he used to go and visit overseas. His grandpa was a school principal who was organizing students’ volunteering activities in his school, and an active member of his local community. He learned from him the importance of being an active participant of the community and how volunteering make a great impact inside a community.

Yasir was 16 when he called and asked his grandpa’s advice on how to approach the world of volunteering work. His grandpa had a long and distinguished career in the field of education and volunteering work. He was promoted to become the principal of an elementary and a high school at his local town before he retires. He was strict when it comes to the homework, because he believes education is one of the most important things in life, but he was very friendly, reaching out to all, and students and the parents respect him.
‘Come and visit me in my house if you want to talk to me about volunteering work’ he said to Yasir. When visited him overseas, Yasir always remembers his grandpa words, that still ringing in his ears:
‘Yasir, when you start doing volunteering work you will be given a lot of tasks to fulfill’ he said. The first thing is always to do something to the best of your ability. Then the second time you do it, give it that little bit extra’. What grandpa was saying to him was: Take the initiative; be innovative; be creative. Always go the extra mile.

The Aha! moment…

From this experience I learned that, volunteering in your community does not just benefit those looking for volunteers but would also instill pride in the heart of those who help improve their societal communities. While some people may feel that volunteering wouldn’t be worth the effort and take up too much of their time, I would politely disagree and argue that it actually lifts one’s own spirits in the long term as well as have an impact on the entire states communities.

People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they work together and are travelling on the thrust of one another. Also volunteering I believe can provide a healthy boost to self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. I feel when any one volunteers, he/she are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. The role as a volunteer can also give a sense of pride and everyone belongs to a community. Also the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.

To summarize it in three words…

Selflessness, join, Sincerity.

Why should you do this

I would recommend anyone and all people to be a volunteer in their communities, because when you strive to make a brighter and better place in your community it makes a big difference and spreads affection and love to all of its people and comes back to you in many ways.

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