When I started searching for colleges, I tried to take note of how involved students were in community service. I like to engage with my community in my free time. I think it broadens my idea of the human experience. I wanted to be on a campus that felt service was as important as I know it to be. I learned a bit about the Campus Y during my first and only campus visit, little did I know how integral it would be to my college experience.
WashU is one of the few universities that have a collegiate branch of the YMCA. The Campus Y coordinates a little over 26 volunteer programs that deal with a variety of community needs. If this program is not your cup of tea, the Campus Y has many other programs that range from teaching kids to code to petting dogs at an animal shelter. There are programs that touch on most people’s interests. If none of those programs tickle your fancy, there are other community service organizations on campus that are involved with the larger St. Louis community. I got involved with one of the Campus Y programs, Help to Heal, my second semester of freshman year. It has now become one of my most important commitments.
Help to Heal is a program that sends volunteers to a local domestic violence shelter. We go Monday through Thursday for an hour and volunteer with childcare. The shelter only has one permanent staff member that works in childcare. That can be stressful because the population is transient, so there can be anywhere from 1-20 kids at any time. We relieve the stress that can come from trying to keep 20 kids occupied and give them the attention they deserve. The reason I got involved is because one of the program leaders expressed to me why she participated and her reasoning resonated with me. She said that this might be the only time these kids might be exposed to interactions that are free of hate. I thought that was a powerful way to impact my world and get involved in the greater St. Louis community.
I know that service has been a way to focus on things other than academics and really get involved with the St. Louis community. Service has made St. Louis my home in ways that I did not think possible before I began college.