Finding the light of serving others

Senior Daniel Callahan reached high on the black lamppost at the corner of 13th and Spring street. On pointed toes, he fastened the flag mount tightly to the pole, and stepped back to view a new addition to the holiday flag route. Callahan placed several more flag posts surrounding Paso Robles’ downtown plaza to raise more American flags on national holidays, enabling the town to further commemorate veterans, presidents, and historic events in a brighter atmosphere. With the help of his fellow scouts in Troop 60, Callahan achieved the rank of Eagle Scout on Oct. 29, 2014 due to his contribution to the people of Paso Robles. Callahan is one of thousands of young people who volunteer to work and improve their community and shine light on Paso Robles even in the gloomiest of times. Nationwide, volunteering has become a light for youth to find purpose in their community and a way to reach out when life’s difficulties are pressing upon them.

Twenty six percent of teenagers from age 16-19 are involved in community service or volunteering, according to surveys by the Bureau of Labor Services, released on Wednesday, Feb. 15 2015. 25 percent of people age 16 and over were involved with volunteering in September of 2014. Youth contribute an average of 1.3 billion hours of service per year according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Volunteering and its power shed light on the fact that he lives of people are never isolated or solitary, but interconnected. Whether briefly visiting businesses, chowing down with friends at restaurants, or passing through town, nobody walks through life like an island, alone. A person’s success depends on the aid of their fellow people.

Freshman Diane Martinez volunteers by the side of her friends. “It’s not an awkward experience with friends, you talk with them, you have fun with them, they show you certain things and you show them certain things, and it’s fun helping each other.”

A serving community can shine light in them, and bring a radiant smile to their face, along with an unyielding sense of belonging and trust.

Martinez joined Key Club this fall semester, where the student members have traveled across California to learn more and experience volunteering. “[Key club] went to Oxnard College, and we met up with other divisions and we just chanted all day and went to workshops,” Martinez said.

When one is at their knees in dark, tumbling in waves of confusion and loss, their community expresses sympathy and brings them to their feet with healing and service. Through volunteering when at their highest points, people lengthen the times spent feeling purposeful and strong, and shorten their time overwhelmed by bitter challenges the world throws at us.

“There always came a sense of accomplishment with a service project, putting flags around town or helping with another person’s eagle project. It just gave me this sense of ‘I helped create this’… whenever you see the thing, I think ‘I helped with that’. “ Callahan said

By volunteering time for others, Callahan felt gratified by making efforts to improve the lives of those surrounding him. Serving others in a surrounding community even saves people caught amid dim, uncertain times. Through community centered service and volunteer groups, such as the Rotary club, Optimist International, Boy Scouts of America, people of all ethnicities and ages develop radiant lights to raise their communities into a beacon for other towns, cities, counties.

With a “whistle while he works” attitude, Callahan has so far amassed 170 hours of community service through his scouting career alongside fellow scouts, which included his Eagle project, countless city clean ups, and other functions in Paso Robles that the troop serves for.

Callahan and Martinez serve to show the importance of regular community servitude, leading their community indirectly or directly by working alongside each other, as a unit, to gather canned food for grumbling stomachs, celebrate all members of the community with helping hands. They serve by rejoicing the impact volunteering efforts make by continuing to sweep its streets and maintain their city.

“I think volunteering has changed me for the better because I have become a little more patient with certain things and I feel that I have taken more responsibility, with taking on tasks when volunteering or just showing up to volunteer,” Martinez said.

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