Ever since I was a little girl I loved to be around people: Hanging out with them, making them laugh, making them smile, making a difference to change their lives like they’ve changed mine. I have been volunteering since I was in middle school. I would go back to my elementary school, where my mom worked as an aid at the time, and hang out with my 5th grade teacher in his class and help the students with math or reading. It was something that I loved to do. This is the beginning of a long journey of volunteering.
I would find volunteer opportunities in high school. I volunteered at my church and at other churches in my community. It wasn’t until I came to college, however, that it over took my life. That’s why my friends said it was doing. In a good way of course! Volunteering has changed and guided my life. I’ve always wanted to help others any way that I could.
At this point in my life, as a senior in college, I can look back at what kind of impact I have made on EIU and the Charleston community and I would say that I am very proud of where I am today. My life is exactly how I want it to and that is because of volunteering and making a difference in other people’s lives.
Freshman year of college I volunteered almost every weekend with the Eastern Illinois Student Community Service Office. I was working so much with the office that my roommate began to wonder where I was all the time. Then I found Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA), a community service based sorority RSO on Eastern’s campus. I thought to myself this is exactly where I need to be––and I was right! I have been ESA for three years now and it has made such a huge impact on my life. I’ve met new friends that became sisters, volunteered with those sisters, and raised money to help children at St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Easter Seals. My goal for each semester was to volunteer 25 hours a semester. Through ESA and the Student Community Service Office I surpassed that goal by almost triple the amount.
Allie and her sisters in Epsilon Sigma Alpha
The Community Service Office always has things to do on the weekend that would last a whole day. It is amazing. It was so easy to sign up for an event and they helped provide transportation. As a student that didn’t have a car at school until her sophomore year, that was a crucial component to being able to volunteer. Some of the best memories have come from waking up early on a Saturday morning, meeting a bunch of random strangers, that all had different reasons for volunteering, and volunteering all day long.
I can remember one of my favorite memories volunteering was going to an equestrian barn on a Tuesday night and helping horses. When we arrived at the barn we hopped out of the car and were greeted by the owner. He said “you made perfect timing, look out there and wait.” As he pointed out into his fields and the sun was setting he screamed “come-on” and whistles. As he did that, his horses all ran over the hill in a group. It was so majestic and magical that we all stood there and watched in pure silence. I remember hearing and even feeling the horse hooves hit the ground as they ran towards us. This is a memory that I will never forget, and it was all because I an opportunity and a free Tuesday night to devote to helping out the community.
I am a Recreation Administration major which essentially means volunteering for life. I will always be volunteering my time; I will be looking for volunteers to help me, and just being a part of a community. There is a sense of belonging to a community when you can take part in activities and festivals put on. You become a member of the community and not just a student bombarding the community for 10 months of the year. I will someday need the help of volunteers to be able to put on my own events or programs. Without the help of volunteers my job then becomes a difficult task. I’m excited for future volunteers to help me as my office puts on festivals and events.
I thrive off other people’s happiness, laughs and smiles. I feel as though every opportunity I have had volunteering makes my life totally complete. It helps me to be a better person in return to helping others, which is the purest sense of love and belonging.
Author Allie Sheehan is a Recreation Administration major at Eastern Illinois University. She is a member of Epsilon Sigma Alpha and in her free time enjoys spending time with her sisters. In addition to being in a service sorority Allison is also a Girls on the Run Coach, a member of National Resident Hall Honorary, a member of the Recreation club at EIU, and a part of the honor’s fraternity Rho Phi Lambda.