“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”Oscar Wilde
I have recently moved to the Lakehouse and one of the greatest benefits I have found in this component of the Ironwood program is the increased exposure to volunteering in our community. Each week we are able to contribute to a variety programs in the community. By doing this, we’ve been able to make a difference in the lives of people who need it. Two of the organizations we work with are Fresh Starts and the local food pantry, who both provide crucial support to people in need.
Our time spent volunteering provides a sense of community, improves self-worth and offers a new perspective of privileges that we sometimes take for granted. It can also be challenging at times because we have to leave our comfort zone and do things we wouldn’t normally do. When making plans for our schedule, the Lakehouse students take the time to discuss how and when they will make an impact and contribute to the organizations in the area. We are all able to agree that it is worthwhile and helps the community while providing a valuable life experience for the entire Lakehouse group.
These experiences can also be used outside of Ironwood because it heightens the urge to volunteer when we get home. I feel that volunteering will benefit me just as much as my community, wherever I end up next in life. We all have our own special abilities that make us unique contributors at each different volunteer location. I have learned that it’s not about being good at what you’re volunteering in, it is about showing passion and being optimistic about what you are doing.
I’ve also learned that you can help your community in just about any way you can imagine, it just takes a little bit of effort. I hope by reading this, it has inspired you to find ways to contribute to those around you and those in need through volunteering. There is always a way in which you can make a difference.
There’s currently an army of professionals who are studying the current teen mental health crisis and no one is arguing over the benefits of volunteering and helping other human beings in need. Teens today seem to be more isolated than ever, focusing on “the self” and confused over what it even means to share quality time with others. Ironwood provides a fast-paced community environment where everyone needs to contribute in order for the day to go well. There’s an interdependence that that can only make you feel like you’re a part of things, while surrounded by acreage that can be very therapeutic, as long as you let it come in to your life.
When our residents volunteer out in the community, it is hoped that they will discover something good that will keep them interested in others, long after their Ironwood journey is over. We have a great group of kids at Ironwood these days and it’s always “very cool” to see them discover new things about their world. Have a great weekend! 😊