The Crusader Newspaper Group

Serving My Country and My Community

Dupres Pina

The holiday season is a time to be thankful for what we have, and to pay it forward by giving back. Although this is something we can all do throughout the year, I wanted to take a moment this holiday season to share why I give back and to encourage more teens to take the time to do the same.

Find the Time

From as early as I can remember, I have always enjoyed helping others. My inclination toward service and giving continued through my adolescent years; and, when I started high school, I joined the ROTC and found my calling with the Navy.

Because I was eager to get started with the Navy, I enrolled at Ombudsman Chicago and have been working to finish high school ahead of schedule, in early 2016, so I can start my training and join my fleet at the Great Lakes Training Center as soon as possible. Although graduating early is a lot of work, the flexible schedule and four-hour school day at Ombudsman has given me more time to volunteer in the community while I finish school.

My point here, is that everyone is busy. We can choose to make time in our schedules for the things we deem important. Giving back or volunteering does not have to be all or nothing, and sometimes doing small things for others can be the most rewarding use of our time.

Connect to Your Cause

From my experience, giving back is the most rewarding when you are connecting to something that is close to you.

I got my first taste of volunteer service while working at Northwestern University football games, providing security with my ROTC unit. Although it is a big responsibility to man the gates and help with crowd control, I wanted to do more. One day on my walk home, I decided to stop by a teen center in my neighborhood where I used to take part in afterschool activities. Now that I am a little bit older, I realized that I wanted to help out and give back to my community, so I decided to step up and become a mentor at the teen center.

As a mentor, I try my hardest to be there for the kids in any way that I can. I offer advice, encouragement and let them know they can always talk to me if they need help. I take a great deal of pride in being someone the kids know and trust. This is just one of the ways I hope I can pay it forward in tribute to those who have been instrumental in my life. Without the advice and encouragement from people like my Navy recruiter and my teachers at Ombudsman, I would not be where I am today.

You Get What You Give

Although volunteering or offering your service might seem like hard work, there are countless rewards to giving back. Connecting to others, making your community a better place and taking your mind away from any of your own personal problems are just a few benefits I have seen.

Giving back is something I plan on doing for the long run and I hope that my influence will encourage the kids at the teen center, my classmates at Ombudsman and my family and friends to do the same.

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