I have always believed that service is an important part of society, but before my time at Waynesburg University, I had never been the type to give it. Not because I ever thought I was too good to serve, but more because I had never felt good enough to serve. Joining the Waynesburg community meant having to serve at some point during my college career, and I was anxious of how I could make a difference.
Little did I know, enrolling in service learning would change my life forever.
Having always loved animals, I chose to conduct my service work at the Humane Society of Greene County. Walking in on my first day, I had no idea what to expect.
When the director began discussing what I could do to help, I began praying they would involve no animal interaction whatsoever. In fact, on my first two days I kept busy scrubbing the inside and outside of every door in the building, setting packages of food on the shelves and working the front desk, answering phones and interacting with customers. I wanted to help the cause, but at a distance. Still, I felt my heart yearning for more.
That's when I was approached with a new request.
The director began talking with me about some of my passions and when I mentioned photography and writing, her face lit up. With a new website and an overload of incoming animals, I was asked if I could help. I could see where the conversation was going, but I wasn't sure I could do what she wanted me to.
Taking photographs of and writing articles about these animals meant getting up close and personal with every single one of them. It broke my heart to think I would have to see their suffering firsthand and tell them they wouldn't find what they were looking for from me; I couldn't give them the love and stability they were desperately searching to find.
But seeing the hope the director had, I accepted her proposition.
As I began working, I realized I had a lot to offer. I was nervous about using my gifts to serve, but God gave me the opportunity to shine and what began as a course requirement quickly developed into a passion for the greater good—helping animals find their “forever homes.”
In the words of Frederick Buechner, "The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
To me, volunteering at the Human Society has not been fulfilling community service hours. It is a commitment fueled by a passion to make a difference in the lives of the animals, who can't do it for themselves. I know I made the right decision when I walked through those doors on the first day.
I know I was led there to make a difference the best way I can—through the gifts God has provided me. I thank Him, and the staff at the shelter, for encouraging me and allowing me to find my passion for serving.