Growing Up Means Giving Back

Mother and son

By Jacob Jewell, College Student Volunteer, Courier & Press, Nov. 10, 2015 –

Over the last several months, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to grow up. Mom was right: it’s not always going to be easy.

I distinctly remember when she first told me this. I was 14 years old and dismissed her with a special kind of certainty that is incredibly rare outside of adolescence.

“No, no, no,” I thought. “The world’s problems will not affect me. I have foresight.” Reassuring myself, I added, “Good things happen to good people, especially those who help themselves.” Oh boy, did I have it all figured out.

A lot has changed for me since then, both circumstantially and perceptually. Last February, just after beginning my second semester away at college, I started having seizures, stemming from a relatively small, noncancerous tumor in the temporal lobe of my brain.

Dog lovers everywhere have told me not to worry about it. Their dogs have epilepsy, and they are fine. Whew.

Since the tumor is noncancerous and isn’t presently growing, right now it is more of an inconvenience than anything devastating. When I first got the news of the tumor, however, there were several unknowns surrounding the related prognosis. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked.

I’m fine now, but this was an incredibly eye-opening experience for me, considering that it could have happened to anyone and been far worse.

On top of that, I realized that everyone will have to face something equally scary or worse involving themselves or a loved one. These things are an unnerving consequence of life. Everyone will face an obstacle at some point in life and need somebody to lean on, whether he or she is a friend, relative or fellow community member.

This understanding is beautifully unifying, bringing together people of all groups. It necessitates philanthropy by emphasizing the genuine interdependence of our community.

No one can stand alone in the face of life’s varied, adverse circumstances. As a people, we are all in this together, and our ability to understand, articulate, and act on our unified causes is one of the defining characteristics of being human, of occupying a society.

Being an active community member is about understanding that roles do change. People fall on hard times. At their best, people take when they need to and give back when they can. They are united in their philanthropic causes and understanding that anyone can be down on their luck — an idea that had once, not that long ago, honestly and embarrassingly evaded me.

Furthermore, being an active community member is about giving energy back into your community, all with the shared ability to use these communal resources, tools and programs since the need to do so can suddenly arise for anyone.

This unity makes community organizations like Youth First invaluable since such groups plug young children and teenagers into strong social networks to help them deal with the speed bumps that pepper life throughout its course.

From a young age, the children of this network receive foundational lessons to last a lifetime, gaining wisdom along the way. The positive role models of such organizations teach our city’s youth the importance of reciprocal giving and judicious taking, the art that builds a strong community.

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