Making a Difference, One Valentine at a Time

The month of February is already half over, many of us have just survived the first round of exams and papers while others are merely trying to stay afloat between classes and the jobs they need to pay the bills. With all the busyness of the daily life of a college student, it can be extremely difficult to balance school and work with friends and family. But my elderly women playing cardspurpose is not to remind you how stressful your life is, but to pose an important question – how has your life impacted others? Are you making a positive or negative impact?

Last fall I found myself considering this exact question. How has my life affected others? Has the way I have lived my life even made the slightest bit of difference in someone else’s? Most people don’t consider their “legacy” until they reach retirement age. But think of all the lives we could touch if we begin now while we are in college. Some of us may consider this question through our belief system, but if not, wouldn’t you still like to look back on these college years and think of the positive influence you had on others? This very question made me reexamine my life and how I was living it.

Students with resident at Mary Agnes ManorLast September, the perfect opportunity arose and I started volunteering at Mary Agnes Manor (the nursing home at the corner of Porter and Prospect Avenues). It added up to only an hour or two each week, which easily fit into my schedule between classes. I went in thinking about how I could help the residents of Mary Agnes. But now, I think of the lasting impact this experience has been on my life. Along with learning the art of practicing patience, I have also gotten to step into their lives and hear their stories. Life’s most important lessons can be learned through listening. Over the past months I have also had a lot of fun – whether it’s making crafts, playing bingo, or bowling indoors.  In fact, this last week on black cherry icecreamValentine’s Day the Activities Department threw a party for the residents. I helped serve the residents cupcakes, butter cream and black cherry ice cream, and, of course, valentines cards. With the music “blaring,” I think we all had a good time.

While volunteering at a nursing home may not be for everyone, there are many other opportunities in the community. (Think: “Lending A Hand” or “Meals on Wheels.”) D’Youville College’s Campus Ministry has created a great list of volunteer opportunities. Even if you do not have time this semester, it is important to consider what you can do in the future as most academic programs here at D’Youville have a volunteer (or service) requirement to graduate. Be sure to ask your academic advisor if that applies to your program.

I challenge you to think about what kind of impact you are making on the world around you. Will you make a difference in someone’s life today? Although I may already be doing some volunteering, there are many more ways I can affect others (and so can you!) A little more optimism and kind words can make this stressful semester a little more enjoyable.

Students with Residents at the Valentine's Day Party

Two Work-Study Students with Residents at the Valentine’s Day Party

Have you ever considered your impact on the world around you? Or the legacy you are leaving at D’Youville College? What volunteer opportunities are you involved in or would like to be involved in? How has someone impacted your life this week?

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  • Last year I volunteered at the Buffalo City Mission with the 2-4 year old kids. It was a big eye opening experience. I saw mother who were struggling to support their children and how the children had to grow up a lot faster than other kids. I would highly recommend volunteering, specifically in a place where your passion fits!

  • My grandfather passed away from cancer in a Hospice facility in 2002 and every since then I have been a Hospice volunteer. Every year I help with the flower bouquet sale and with the Hospice walk in hopes that what I do will help change someone’s life with the money that will be raised from these events. I remember how kind the employees were to my grandfather and how that they helped me get through an extremely hard time, so in helping patients one on one in the facility I hope to give back to others what was given to me: kindness, a sense of hope and comfort.

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