Volunteer Reflections: Merry

Greetings, Starfish supporters! This summer we are especially excited to share the reflections of our current cohort of Starfish interns, who are supporting us in our social media and fundraising projects. Today’s post comes from Merry, a member of our Summer 2015 Social Media Team.

¡Hola! My name is Merry, and I am one of the interns on the Social Media Team this summer. Working with Starfish for the past couple of months has been nothing short of incredible, but upon being given the opportunity to pen a short blog post about nearly any topic of my choosing, I balked. I thought about it for an embarrassingly long amount of time. What kind of insight could I–a rising junior in high school, almost-seventeen-year-old, mediocre driver, avid traveler–share with you all? Maybe, I thought, I could share with you how, and more importantly, why I’m here: my own personal Starfish story. We all have one; here is mine.

I first learned about the Starfish Foundation a little less than two months ago, as an ambassador at the HOBY PA East Leadership Seminar 2015. Beth spoke to us as a member of one of the panels, and it was immediately clear that she was no stranger to the type of crowd gathered before her that day. Having listened to panels and discussed leadership from the morning into the afternoon, we ambassadors had good enough reason to be a little tired, perhaps distracted, even uninterested; it may sound cliché, but when Beth spoke, we were captivated. She spoke with infectious passion of co-founding a nonprofit after returning from a year of volunteering, and of the emphasis Starfish places on education for future success. I experienced a moment of–this is true? This stuff can happen? I can help out, make an impact, shape a future? Really?

When Beth reached out in search of summer interns, I contacted her as soon as I could. But why? I have a busy enough schedule. I’m dancing almost seven hours a day, six days a week. When I’m not dancing, I have physical therapy sessions nearly every other day. Junior year is approaching fast, and my desk is laden with stacks of SAT practice tests, summer assignments, and textbooks. Why did I fill out that application the moment I found out it existed?

 I think it’s because, as Anne Frank so eloquently put it, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Even taken out of context, this quote stands true. Despite the business of our schedules, the tumult in our lives, the hundreds of day-to-day plans and problems and chores and errands we have, we still want, and need, to be and do good. Not simply because we should, but more so because we can. By volunteering our time and skills, we at once give and receive some of the longest lasting gifts; in Starfish’s case, we give students chances to further their academics and discover their interests while allowing their families to focus on providing for themselves. In return, volunteers receive so much–experience in every aspect of the word for sure, but more importantly, the single most rewarding feeling in the world: the gratitude of students and their families.

 This feeling of knowing I can make a difference in someone’s life with the skills and passion I already possess is what caused me to apply for this internship. It feels not overwhelmingly good, but also overwhelmingly right. Incidentally, I think you’ll find as you finish reading this post that all of our stories are extremely similar. I think you’ll find that, at the end of the day, we all want to throw a few more starfish back into the ocean.

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