Throughout my time in the Ryan Nece Foundation Student Service Program, I have been able to experience and learn about the Power of Giving. Today was no different. In particular, I learned about the notion that no act of kindness is small.

The day started off with working at a local K-8 charter school. The school had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and was rebuilt with the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) implemented. This program promotes leadership and critical thinking within the underprivileged students that it serves. An important aspect of any school is the physical presence. Having an organized school does wonders to promote productivity and to create a safe, clean space where many of these students can learn. Therefore, we worked to organize and develop an inventory of the storage closets. Although it may seem a trivial effort, I learned about how something ‘small’ has immense implications. I began to envision how an organized closet would allow teachers and students to better access their materials and how it would help the school better prepare for its students and its needs.
We also had the privilege to hear from a couple during lunchtime that had humble origins in New Orleans. Listening to their stories, such as how even when they only had $13 in their account they gave $2 to charity, inspired me to continue to give regardless of how much tangible ‘wealth’ I had. Again, $2 may seem small but any act of charity is vital. Their words of wisdom and passion to serve reaffirmed my pursuit of community service.
After dinner, we had the honor to hear two speakers: one was the president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans, Mr. Twitchell, and the second was NFL player Coby Fleener.
From Mr. Twitchell, I learned about the rich and diverse culture of New Orleans and the issues that it faces due to corruption, the quality of education, and building back the economy after Hurricane Katrina. Most importantly, I became cognizant of how it wasn’t money that built back New Orleans but the efforts of volunteers. This reinforced that yes it is important to give money but that giving your time has a greater impact. After listening to this, I am further persuaded to continue giving my time. Mr. Twitchell also talked about the importance of civic engagement regarding disaster relief and politics. I am reminded that my voice matters and that I should further engage in community matters.
From Mr. Fleener, I learned about the importance of teamwork and treating everyone from the postal man to a business leader with equal respect and importance. Again, he mentioned how the small act of just saying hi to someone can have a tremendous impact but sparking another person’s smile or starting a friendship. He fortified the concept that you should never care about what people think of you.
In sum, I learned about how I can impact others just by giving a little bit of my time and that service is diverse, inclusive, and of course vital to any community. I look forward to tomorrow and many more service endeavors in the future!!
– Heta Patel