Self-Selected Community Service Day by Gemma Briggs

For my day of community service, I chose to work with an organization that my friend, Madeline Wilks, started. This organization is called ELM (Enriching Lives through Music) and we play concerts for the elderly in assisted living facilities across the Tampa Bay area. This is a nonprofit, and they need the volunteer hours to keep the concerts running and to plan the events themselves.

Overall, my day volunteering with ELM was amazing. When I got there, I was able to talk to the staff at the assisted living facility and some of the residents. I could see that everyone was happy to see teens doing community service and that some of the elderly residents told me that I reminded them of their grandchildren. Beforehand, I helped to set up the concert space with chairs and instruments. During the concert, I was able to sing, play bagpipes and play the piano; all of which the audience enjoyed. There were five musicians there contributing to the effort and we worked together seamlessly to make the concert happen. We all switched off in the play order, not putting the burden on one person or tiring someone out with too many numbers in a row. Afterwards, The residents made it clear that they loved seeing high schoolers give back to their community and that they loved the music.

The Power of Giving was highlighted in my day with ELM. I felt appreciated and good about myself after the concerts when the residents let us know how much they loved our music. Giving makes a person feel extraordinary, and this was no exception. This event restored my faith in the power of community service and how it can make you feel. It is important for every citizen to give back to and improve their community, and I saw on my day with ELM the impact that giving can have.

I learned that every nonprofit, no matter how large or small, depends on volunteer help. Without the help that they had, the concert would have been very short and the space would not have been set up appropriately. Also, the planning needs were highlighted in that we all needed to chip in to make sure everybody was on the same page. I know that charities rely financially on the goodness of the human heart but I never realized the extent to which it depended on manpower.

I was able to tell when a person liked a certain number, and I was able to play a similar number if they responded particularly well. For example, I was playing some show tunes that everyone was clapping along to and I was able to play some more Broadway that everyone was able to enjoy. I really used active listening skills in this situation, and I have gained a greater understanding of the role they play in our daily lives.

– Gemma Briggs