If you could wake up tomorrow and change the world for the better, would you do it? What price would you be willing to pay? Would you give up the chance to go on a vacation? A job promotion? How about dedicating a year of your life to the cause?
When I first looked into becoming a One-Year volunteer with Christian Appalachian Project, the long-term commitment seemed like an enormous amount of time. So, with this in mind, why did I decide to volunteer with CAP?
For the community. From early mornings on the road to our service projects to late night conversations, living in a community of fellow volunteers has been a life-changing experience for me. Together we have served, celebrated accomplishments, prayed, and seen personal growth. Living with a group of people with similar values of service has been extremely energizing for me. It has strengthened my dedication to my service position by reminding me that even if things seem stressful or difficult, I can face any obstacle that I come across. Community is a support system and a motivator all in one. My housemates push me to be my best, and are right there to catch me if I fall short.
For the service. Children have always been important to me, so the ability to work with kids in the Camp Shawnee program has been very fulfilling. Being from Appalachia, it is extremely humbling to be able to go back into the schools that I attended growing up and tutor the next generation of young scholars, just like someone once did for me. In addition to the in-school aspect, Camp Shawnee has pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone so many times in the past half year. From organizing and hosting game show night for our teen leadership program to leading camp chants with students after school, my service year has been filled with laughter, successes, and growth—both for myself and for the kids that Camp Shawnee serves.
For Appalachia. The mountains are different than anywhere else I've ever been. There is just something special about this place. The beauty of the mountains paired with the rich culture of the people who live here make it a very memorable place. Appalachia is my home. The people of Appalachia have supported me throughout my life and have shaped me into the person I am today. I will never be able to completely repay this support, but serving in Eastern Kentucky with CAP has given me the opportunity to give back to the communities and people who raised me.
I chose to volunteer with the Christian Appalachian Project because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. Through service, building community, and focus on the people we serve, I believe that CAP is doing just that. And if we make life easier for those around us, no matter how small the changes, I believe that we can change the world for the better.
Kathryn Branham is a One-Year volunteer and AmeriCorps member serving in CAP's Summer Camp program. If you want to learn more about volunteering with CAP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.