As I begin my final year of college as an undergraduate, I come into senior year a new person. I am wiser, smarter, more patient, more diverse, more open-minded, and better prepared for what the world has to offer. There are a lot of things that I can attribute to these changes. My parents, my great professors here at HPU, my friends, and my experiences are all responsible for my evolution as a person. However, the Bonner Leader Program has been a key factor in my self-transformation. This program has prepared me for life and has made me an overall better human being through a number of ways. The Bonner Leader Program forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and view and interact with all faces of life. Through invaluable experiences such as attending state conferences, hosting discussions here on campus, and doing volunteer work throughout the City of High Point, I have truly discovered what it means to be a leader. Being a leader is taking the initiative. It’s looking a problem straight in the eye, and doing whatever it takes to combat it. It’s being open-minded and accepting change. It’s not being afraid of challenging yourself and taking that extra step towards personal development. Being a Bonner Leader has enabled me to do all of the above.
Even though I won’t have a specific service site this year, I am excited for my new role as the Senior Intern. This position will not only allow for me to build upon my leadership skills, but it will also help me develop crucial skills necessary for my future profession as a teacher. It will force me to be more organized and time conscience. I will develop better group management skills. And maybe most importantly, I will greatly develop my communication skills. I look forward to working along side the new cohort of Bonners and being that leader that they can aspire to. When I graduate and look back at what all I have accomplished during my time at High Point University, I will truly be able to say that I not only made a significant impact on campus, but in the City of High Point as well. I owe that all to the Bonner Leader Program.
Working at West End Ministries this semester has shown me how impactful and powerful the expression “Thank you” can be. Often, we take for granted when someone tells us thank you or when we thank someone. Most of us are raised to say thank you to politely appreciate or recognize someone for doing something for us. After a while, saying thank you just becomes a routine thing to say. While there is nothing wrong with that, the problem lays in the fact that we become too comfortable with hearing the expression. With doing so, we soon forget the meaning behind those two simple words. Not only do we forget the meaning of the expression, but after hearing it thousands of times, we also forget the significance of hearing it as the recipient. I will admit that I, unfortunately, was one of those people who lost sight of the importance of saying thank you and being thanked. However, this semester at West End Ministries has completely opened my eyes to the power and impact of those two words.
During this semester at West End, I have had the opportunity of helping serve the community meals as well as pass out food boxes. Low-income families are eligible to receive a food box every 30 days. The size of their family dictates the size and quantity of the food box. These food boxes are designed to sustain a family roughly a week or so. When families come to the door and I hand them their food box, they always leave saying thank you. Every single thank you I receive, I feel the sentimental value behind it. I can tell these individuals do not say it out of routine, but out of true appreciation. Never before have I had those two words put such a warm feeling in my heart.
Being able to be a part of something like this really allows for you to take a step back and look at the stereotypes that are associated with people from the lower class. Often they are perceived as people who are greedy, lazy, abuse kindness, or always ask for handouts. Working at West End has completely disproven those allegations for me. Every person I have assisted has been grateful for my service. Not once have I been asked for more food than what was already given to them. There hasn’t been an issue with other people stealing each other’s food boxes or anything of that nature. Just because they are people with less money or material things than the average person, doesn’t mean they should be trusted any less. These experiences have solidified that extending a helping hand to those in need is truly one of the greatest feelings in the world. Working with West End Ministries has assured me that my true passion is helping others. I look forward to continuing my service there as well as building a stronger relationship with the people of the community of High Point.
Working at West End Ministries has been an exceptional experience that has reopened my eyes to numerous different things. The fact that I have the opportunity to work along side an organization that helps women in poverty is extremely touching and personal to me. Since birth and well into my early teen years, I grew up in a single parent household where my mother was the sole provider. During most of those years, we lived in poverty. I remember vividly my mom going to places like West End Ministries and receiving help. If it were not for places like West End Ministries, I do not know what would have ultimately happened to our family. This is the reason why working at West End is so important to me. I want to provide all the help I possibly can, and by being a volunteer coordinator, I want to bring in as much help as I can.
My plans going forward are to recruit volunteers from the local high schools as well as students from High Point University. I’ve contacted several service-learning coordinators from surrounding high schools and have been receiving phenomenal feedback. Many of the schools have students who are real advocates of helping the less fortunate. To see that type of passion has been extremely heart warming to me. I have also been surprised by how many High Point students want to volunteer as well. What I have noticed as a trend is that many people are aware that there are needs out there, but they do not know what places are trying to help those needs. Going forward, I hope to be a middle-person that can provide those wanting to help with resources of places that are providing service to specific needs. I am really excited about this opportunity that I am in and I plan to make the very best of it.