Wednesday, January 1, 2020


In order to graduate high school students must complete 100 hours of community service. Community service for them is more than something that will look good on their resume. It can point them to new interests, new friends, and if their lucky, maybe even a lifelong career. And yeah, okay, it’ll also look good on their resume.

I like to tell my students that part of being human is to feel useful and offering a helping hand to those in need is a way of feeling purposeful and everyone from time to time needs that helping hand. Learning to extend ours a little further will help us build a reputation as a reliable, and helpful person.

For you, the students out there “Volunteering” is a big word. How can you be sure you’re finding opportunities that are right for you? There are always easy entry points, like the service clubs at your high school or civic organizations, but beyond that, the options can get overwhelming.

When families volunteer their time to reach out to help others, they are also helping one another become more humane. After all, the word “humane” is a variant of the word “human.” Volunteering your time also includes demonstrating better aspects of the human character such as kindness and compassion and showing respect for other people’s views.

When I was in high school back during the stone age, I enjoyed visiting the elderly in nursing homes, or at assisted living facilities, and in my own neighborhood. I enjoyed listening to their stories but I also found that the elderly can teach students new skills. Another way to show the older folks that you care is to deliver meals to them. This would be a perfect way to show that you care for their wellbeing. Doing errands, cooking for them or for a neighbor who is sick are also ways of volunteering your time to help out a person in need.

Here are some other ways of volunteering your time and being helpful:

You may never read some of your used books again so why not donate them to people who are in need of them. Other people can gain knowledge from reading your used books so donating them to others is a great act of kindness.

Pick up litter and beautify your neighborhood or wildlife area. It’s safest to do this wearing gloves and using a pickup tool or a Reacher. Put each piece of trash in a box or garbage bag, then recycle or throw the garbage away when you’re done.

Beautify your neighborhood by planting flowers. That is a great way to show others that you care about your neighborhood and where you live.

Be kind and take an evening to watch a neighbor’s child. Your neighbor may need a night out from parenting so step up and volunteer your time to meet the challenge. Working with people much younger than you are truly ways to make a difference in your community and to show others all that you have to offer.

People throughout the world cannot afford to purchase the clothes you ware. So donating your used clothes will help other children in a far off land live a better life.

Another way of being helpful is to learn to anticipate the needs of others by listening closely to what people say, and how to share your time in the most helpful ways possible. Being around is one of the underrated requirements of being a helpful person. If you want to be helpful for your friends and family, you've got to be available to be helpful and give them the gift of your time. Try and make time for the important people in your life and be willing to do things you might not normally want to do, to be as helpful as possible.

If you schedule a time to visit those in need in your free time by putting off a computer game with friends, remind yourself, it’s the right thing to do. Especially, when it comes to helping out others, even when you'd rather not. A simple act of visiting your elderly neighbor can be the kindest gesture in your neighbor’s life. No one wants to be lonely in the world so you can surely make a difference by becoming a friend to an elderly person.

Want to know if you can be of some assistance? Ask. The best way to figure out quickly and efficiently if and what you can do to help out is to just ask, flat-out.

For the students out there, you should know that everyone at some point needs a helping hand and why should homework be an exception? If you are a wiz in one subject, why not help out a young student who can’t seem to grasp the subject matter. Put away your phone and give the person you're helping your full attention. Really listen to the person and evaluate the situation as objectively as possible. Digging deeper, asking questions and staying engaged in the person's issues will make you the most helpful presence possible. Don't look for the easy help, look for the real help.

I like to tell my students that our self-worth will not be measured by what we amassed in a lifetime but by what we give in the present moment. Our greatest achievements will not consist of fame or glory but in the unremembered, unrecognized, and undetected acts of loving-kindness that were bestowed on others.

We make our living in life but what we give makes our life worth living.
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. Voice mail: (410) 925-9334
    China Mobile: 011 (86) 13405757231
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill

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