My name is Brooke Smith and I am a freshman at Virginia Tech from Virginia Beach, Virginia. My major is clinical neuroscience. I would like to go to medical school in the future at Eastern Virginia Medical School. I have one little sister and one older brother. My brother is in the army living in Tennessee and my little sister is still in high school. I have one dog named Booboo. Some of my favorite hobbies are playing soccer, hanging out with friends and family and shopping. I am half-Filipina and half Irish. I enjoy all types of music but I especially love country music and go to many concerts. Community service gives hope to people in need because someone is actually helping them. Service is essential because, in a world full of tragedy and poverty; acts of genuine kindness may be hard for some people to find. Volunteering in my community has shown me what an impact just a few hours of time can mean to people who are in need. Originally, SERVE was not my first choice but I got to know how great this living learning community is through my roommate who was in SERVE to begin with. The people within the SERVE community spoke about the awesome service activities they have been involved in and wanted the opportunity to do the same thing. I am applying to the SERVE living learning community because I am fortunate to live in it and enjoy the people that are a part serve! I also really enjoyed community service during high school.
For example, one of the National Honor Society service projects that I attended opened my eyes to how fortunate I am to have food on my table every night. My adviser and one other NHS member and I went to my local food bank and sorted through food for a few hours. This was a humbling experience because I had donated to the food bank before but now I was able to see where the food goes after it is donated. After we had sorted through the food, we were led through a tour of the food bank. The most memorable part of the tour was when the worker showed us a few ragged backpacks hanging on the wall and told us about their weekend backpack program. He told us that some students' only meal may be their school lunches that they get for free. This means that on the weekends, they may not have food at all. As I thought about those poor kids who have to go to bed each night hungry, I knew that volunteering here was a huge impact on my community. This has had an impact on my life because now I never take my blessings for granted and I try my best not to waste as much food. Also, I try to donate to the food bank whenever my school is holding a food bank drive because I think about those children who may go through the weekend hungry. I hope to be introduced to more service opportunities around Blacksburg and the surrounding community. I would like to volunteer my skills to better serve the community with whatever they need help with. In high school I volunteered at my local hospital and participated in various medical walks. I was also a cheerleading coach and logged over 400 volunteer hours by doing that. I am excited for all of the things that Virginia Tech has to offer me including this SERVE living learning community. I chose Virginia Tech for their dedication to community service and family feel within campus. Fortunately, I found that within the SERVE living learning community. I am really excited to engage in learning about the Blacksburg and surrounding areas that I know call home through these community service activities. Also, I know that these service activities may look good on my resume and I may meet new people and make new connections to better help my future. Even after college I hope to continue pursuing volunteer opportunities. I am interested in doing things such as doctors without borders and Operation Smile mission trips. I hope I can do these things with my future medical career.
I volunteered many times at my local foodbank in my hometown. I can educate others or raise awareness about this group or social issue by showing them the things that the foodbank does through a walking tour or even a day of volunteering there. Personally, before my first time volunteering at the foodbank, I did not know how much they did for the community and did not realize how much of an impact donating food to the food bank makes. They showed us on the tour of the foodbank a ton of different rooms like their warehouse where they pack all of their inspected food to hand out to people and one room where they keep all of their backpacks for the kids who only have meals during the school week. This was called the “weekend backpack program” where they pack a used backpack with all different types of food for kids who may not have had food on the weekends without the help of the foodbank. These experiences of taking part in what the food bank does firsthand and taking a tour of the foodbank was beneficial to me and would raise awareness to others in the community as well if they took part in that experience too.
I do see benefits of doing community work because this gives people hope when they may not have had hope before. These people need an extra hand and I am glad that I am able to do that. Through community service, people build relationships with the people that they are helping in the community and with the people that are volunteering their time with them. These connections that are built can last for a long time. Also, the people that are being helped get something out of it whether it is a new house or painted wall or just a more beautiful community. The institutional structures that are in place at the food bank are the workers then the volunteers then the people that donate the food and the people who the food go to. This affects the people that I work with because the food has to go through a process before it is donated out to the community. The food is donated and then the workers train the volunteers to be able to inspect and package the food correctly. Then, the food is handed out to the people in the community in need by workers and volunteers after it has gone through that whole process. I helped in the process of the food that was to be given out to the community by checking expiration dates and checking to see if the cans or boxes were damaged at all. I did this often with groups of friends through my high school’s national honor society where one of the pillars of the society was focused on service. However, I never had the opportunity to distribute the food out to the community in person but I hope to get the opportunity to do that in the future. The most difficult part of the service was probably sorting through all of the food because there was a lot of people fitting in a tight space so it was hard to move around freely. Also, it was very time consuming. The most satisfying part was knowing the work that I had done was making a huge difference in the community. Also, I really enjoyed the tour of the facility and the education of what the foodbank really does because this helped me really understand the effect that I had on my surrounding community. My values are expressed through my community work because I do things in my community that interests me such as working at the foodbank because I always donated food but never knew what happened after that. Also, volunteering at my local hospital was of interest to me since I want to go into the medical field one day. I think I have strong values in giving back and caring for others so I think that is another thing that is reflected in my volunteer work. Because of my service-learning, I am better connected with the people in my community and I understand issues such as poverty a little bit better.