I'm Cincinnati Smart because I used my college experience as an opportunity to not only better myself but also better the lives of people with disABILITIES!
In the summer of 2011, I participated in Build America, a cross-country service program through my fraternity's philanthropy. Never before had I spent such an extensive period of time volunteering, and I would not trade those seven weeks for anything. As my brothers and I completed construction projects ranging from sheds to accessible playgrounds through all elements that accompany summer, I realized that service is taking part in something bigger than oneself. The projects we completed will live with the camps for many years, affecting the lives of countless campers and increasing the quality of their time at camp. Now wheelchair bound campers can hike through nature at the Woodlands Foundation in Pennsylvania and can be shaded by the sun while waiting to ride horse back at Rocky Mountain Village in Colorado. The time and effort my brothers and I put in is minimal compared to the duration our efforts will last at these camps and the memories we created with the campers.
Through Build America, I also realized that giving back can be as simple as being an advocate for another’s well-being. No one person should be considered better or worse than another. A difference between people allows each person his or her own unique personality and perspectives on life, and challenges us all to be compassionate, empathetic people. Differences between people that, to some, provoke discrimination should instead be held sacredly, for diversity is essential to preserving the pleasures and delights of life.
That summer, I had the chance to give people with disABILITIES the voice they need and deserve. The trip may be over, but my passion for service is anything but.