Josh Haynes HONR 2750- H02 Final Reflective Essay Now that the semester is wrapping up, I can safely

say this course has taught me a lot, both about myself and the overall process of volunteering with a community service organization. I have dealt with many trials that have presented themselves, finding ways to circumvent them. While volunteering with the Red Cross’ UNC Charlotte blood drive, I have learned how everyone can help and make a difference, no matter their skills or qualifications. This reflective paper will look at my growth throughout the semester as I develop an identity with regards to volunteering. For this purpose, I have selected a drop of water filling a pool of water as my metaphorical theme. I have noticed multiple people in this class band together and combine their efforts to collectively volunteer and commit their time towards a shared goal. They are pooling their resources and experiences in order to make an even greater impact. All individuals have their own water and must decide what to do with it. They can keep their water to themselves and effectively make a puddle; or, they can combine their water and create a pond full of positive impacts. Before and after class I see groups of students coming together to discuss their recent experiences with community service, as well as plan for their next outing. I feel this is a very promising sign for real development of a community service identity. During our class discussions, I can hear everyone telling stories about how they have and will continue to devote time to volunteer opportunities. The research article we read to begin the semester consistently mentioned community service as more than just putting time into a work log. It is about developing a rapport with the organization and understanding where your efforts are going. My observations during this class lead me to believe such a relationship is developing for my peers and me. To be a “volunteer” means to commit yourself to an organization and develop a sense of identity with them. For this to happen, you must agree to contribute to the pooling of time and resources. Your work is significant; not only can you see the progress as you continue your efforts, but this development is meaningful. The work impacts the lives of others in a positive way. It may be as simple as serving a warm meal at a

Josh Haynes HONR 2750- H02 soup kitchen, or maybe even as complex as building a new home. No matter what work is being done, the results can have far-reaching ripples. This practicum has been quite an eye-opening experience for me. Nearly all of my previous experience with community service activities was in a relatively controlled environment. I was often given a few choices where I would like to volunteer, sign myself up, and volunteer once or twice. I have never been given such a vast freedom of choice. The almost unlimited amount of community service organizations, from working with animals, kids, or homeless shelters to building houses or cleaning roads, can almost lead to a choice overload. This was the first obstacle I have experienced this semester. It was difficult to determine the right fit, finding a good balance between being overworked and apathy, as well as discovering a group that can provide motivation or interest. My first thought immediately jumped to volunteering with an organization that helps animals. However, this still left a very broad range of opportunities with which I could spend my time. I settled on the Humane Society of Charlotte as my first choice. I then ran into my next two obstacles. Knowledge and communication, which I had been warned ahead of time could very possibly be a huge issue, became a critical factor in my experience. I discovered the difficulty of maneuvering around volunteer organization websites while searching for information directed towards interested volunteers. After combing through the site’s various pages, I finally discovered a list of different volunteer guidelines. Multiple descriptions were given, from children volunteers to people needing large amounts of hours, such as myself. I found a two page application form required for these individuals and filled out the basic information. I then reached the section of the application where I was asked which of the times I could work, leading to my second major obstacle. The only available time slots for individuals such as myself were between 8 and 10 in the morning and 3 and 6 in the afternoon on weekdays. With my school and work schedule, I would never be able to reach the required hours by the end of the semester. I found a name to email with questions and asked what people in my situation can do, but never

Josh Haynes HONR 2750- H02 heard anything back. This brings me back to the communication obstacle. After a few days of waiting on a response, I felt it was time to begin pursuing other options. I then reached out to the UNC Charlotte blood drive, which takes place in January. Initially, I came across the same issue of communication. It took some time before the volunteer coordinator and I finally got on the same page and were able to communicate in a timely and effective fashion. Although I have not yet completed my hours with the Red Cross blood drive, I have still begun to form my identity and see how I can contribute to the organization. The plight for donations almost mirrors the efforts of community service organizations; everyone can help fill the lake with their own water drops. With everybody’s help, the Red Cross could essentially reach and supply much of the world’s demand for blood. In light of the recent typhoon in the Philippines, donations of money and blood are critical to the relief efforts. Once again, people must be willing to drip their water into the whole pool.