Wes Ellis, Senior and Vice President of Cardinals in Action
The music is booming, and my new friends and I are pulling out ALL of the stops on the dance floor. The sprinkler. The cabbage patch. The funky chicken. The running man. Even the Whip/Nae Nae! I’m a big boy, so after approximately 2 minutes of continuous dancing, I need to take a seat and catch my breath. While catching my breath, I survey my surroundings. The atmosphere is electric, and the room is filled with nothing but smiles and laughter.
Last Saturday, I—along with many volunteers from Intersection (North Central’s Day of Service)—helped to set-up and facilitate a big carnival for the special needs community to enjoy through an organization called Touch my Heart. The carnival featured many games and activities: basketball, beanbags, dancing, hockey, face painting, dancing, coloring books, a bounce house, balloon animals, and dancing to name just a few! (The dancing was a real hit for me if you’ve yet to figure that out.)
All joking aside, the dance floor was truly where some of the most special momentsoccurred during this event. Here, volunteers and carnival attendees came together to have a great time. I met a friend who loved to high-five to the beat of the music. Another friend was a master at lip-syncing all of the Michael Jackson classics.
I couldn’t help but feel that the dance floor helped to create an immediate sense of community amongst people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to interact otherwise. Isn’t that awesome? Plus, I racked up over 20,000 steps on my Fit Bit that day. Boom.
Volunteering with Touch my Heart, simply put, touched my heart! We were able to give people with special needs a fun, safe environment in which they could enjoy themselves. Just through giving a few hours of our time at Intersection, we were able to make a big impact.
I desperately want my family, friends, and peers to realize that service is not an entirely selfless activity. In fact, it can be selfish. That may sound radical, but through my experiences in volunteering, I know this to be true. Do you notice how I’ve written a lot about myself and how volunteering made me feel rather than focusing on others? That’s because it made me feel…a lot! Good feels.
I was able to take away something from Intersection, just as I am able to take away something from every service experience. I fervently believe that service is just as enriching for the volunteer as it is for the person in need. My experience at Intersection just furthered that belief.
My only regret? I didn’t play in the bounce house. What was I thinking?!
Photo rights: Touch My Heart