Giva Student Scholarship & Worldwide Community Ambassador Winner Essay Series: Shila Vardell

Giva is proud to showcase the essays of its Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award winners. Below is an essay from Shila Vardell, University of Phoenix. Giva's hope is to inspire others through these essays. The Essay question was, "How will you use your talents and education to make the world a better place for future generations? What are your career and personal goals and why?" We hope that sharing these essays will help others realize the joys and benefits of service. Congratulations to Shila Vardell!

Giva Scholarship Winning Essay

By Shila Vardell:

First let me take a moment to thank Giva for the scholarship that I was awarded.  Giva's scholarship program has the backing and full support of Ron Avignone, founder of Giva.  Mr. Avignone called me to congratulate me and we had a long and thoughtful conversation on why volunteer service has been so important to his personal development. The objective of writing about my service experiences is to influence others to realize the very tangible personal benefits of volunteerism. In Ron Avignone's words, he says, "You really can't give anything away", meaning that the benefits of volunteerism are that the work we do teaches us valuable life lessons and also benefits us in ways that are often multiplied many times over!!  I'm also grateful for working with a dedicated group of Altruism and Community outreach leaders at Giva who are committed to changing the world in impactful ways.

The following is my essay:

Have you ever taken the time to sit back and think about the future? I think about the future quite often. It is scary to think of what the world will be like in a decade or so. There is so much violence and hate going on all over the world. If people would just stop and think about how this violence and hate are going to affect our children they may consider changing. I am a twenty-five year old female and I know that I cannot change the world. However, I know that I can influence the youth in my community and making that little bit of difference is one step closer to making the world a better place.

Over the past six years I have made many life changes. Instead of going out with friends during my spare time, I started focusing on bettering the world and the environment. I did not have a lot of money but I had more motivation than anyone could ever imagine. The first thing I wanted to do was help the less fortunate in my community. I did not have any money so I had to come up with a way to get the people in my community to come together and help. Every day I would post ads on Facebook, Craigslist, and Instagram trying to influence people to donate food and clothing so we could give it to the less fortunate. I collected over 500,000 articles of clothing and over 600,000 canned goods within the past six years.

Once I figured out how to collect donations I wanted to find a way to involve the youth in my community. The majority of the children and teens in my community were involved in gangs. I knew that if someone did not do something, these children would end up on the wrong path in life. I started spreading the word about wanting to get the youth involved in helping me to help the less fortunate. At that time, I had a few family members who were in their teens. I knew that they could help me spread the word at their school. I made fliers for them to pass out at school. After two weeks of constant passing out flyers at schools and malls I actually had teenagers showing up at my door step wanting to help. Every Saturday morning we would make 100 lunches for homeless people and spend the day driving around and handing them out. I would keep my trunk full of clothing so I could supply people with the clothing that they needed in order to survive. This type of volunteer work was a full time job but every time I saw a hungry person get to eat or a cold person get to put on a warm jacket I remembered why I did it. Not only did I get to help the less fortunate, but I also got to keep the youth off the streets and motivated them to be better people.

Currently, I have over 60 teenage volunteers that help me every day. We continue to get donations and pass out food and clothing. It feels so good to be able to say that I am 25 years-old and I am making such a huge difference in my community. These teenagers are on a better path in life than they once were. Instead of being involved in gangs they are involved in helping make their community a better place. In the future, these teenagers will hopefully continue to help others. It is an honor to say that I am helping build a better environment for the future. Our community will no longer be filled with gang violence. It will be filled with motivated individuals who are willing to sacrifice their time to help people in need.

In the past six years I have recruited teenagers from three different cities to help us pass out food and clothing to the needy. It is my goal to expand my donation service to a larger region. We are receiving more donations as more people hear about what we are doing. It would be such a great feeling to be able to influence more teenagers to help us in our fight to make the world a better place.

My career goal is to someday open a non-profit organization where teenagers can come and help the community. I realize that there are many non-profit organizations for teenagers but I want mine to be different. I want teenagers to feel that they are helping the community and doing good for themselves and others. This will inspire them to continue on the right path in life. I enjoy helping others so this is a win win situation. I will help the teenagers get on the right path in life and at the same time we will be helping the less fortunate in our communities.