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The volunteering experience is something I personally have experience with and thoroughly enjoy doing. Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to volunteer in high school with a now much larger program, Rivers Alive. In high school I personally managed to acquire several tens of hours. Not because volunteering was initially required, but because my friends had taken the initiative and dragged me along. Before I knew it I found myself really enjoying what I was doing. By the time it is required of me to volunteer in college, I immediately knew what I’d be doing.
Getting back in touch with old teachers and hopping right back into Rivers Alive was like riding a bike. Rivers Alive was a program offered bv Centennial HiGh School that was around when I was in the 9‘“ grade and on, currentlv the program is in it’s 14m year and still doing well. In the early 90’s, a river cleanup program was enacted, one that did not act with any Governmental agencies and was started as a self-proclaimed non- proﬁt.
Using money donated from businesses and organizations, Rivers Alive cleans up rivers and continues to beautify neighborhoods.
I’d like to add that most of the cleanups are usually held in neighborhoods of NPU-F, which I would not have known without taking this class. When I volunteered, the structure was more or less the same as previous years. Initially I had to get back into contact with old teachers that helped run the program at our high school.
Once I had been able to do that I was given an itinerary of our event dates and coinciding beautiﬁcation events in the area. We would park on campus and be driven by bus to the Chattahoochee River. With trash bags and gloves, we were told to go down the river slopes, across the river, and deep into shrubbery to pick up trash and rearrange rocks so that it wasn’t obvious people had kicked them over. I did a lot of heavy lifting. bringing tarps and supplies down from where the bus parked, to where the students were cleaning. The odd thing is that I had not learned anything particularly different than what I had learned the ﬁrst time volunteering. What struck me the ﬁrst time is just how actively people will really attempt to destroy a nice river. The Chattahoochee is far from being the Buckingham Palace of rivers, but it was still one that desen/ed respect. I would say that applies to all rivers.
I learned that people drink a lot in remote public places and then tend to not throw their cans into the trashcans just a few feet away. If anything, it got me wondering just how people can care so little. From this I learned that people do not change so quickly and even the knowledge that river beautiﬁcation is taking place in the area will not stop their trash. What I left with the very ﬁrst few river cleanups is that people should not have to cleanup to that magnitude. People as a whole really need to be more conscious and self aware in these situations because honestly the work we as volunteers had to endure was tough, lengthy, and lackluster. My volunteering experience was pretty much just what I had expected. Again, nothing has really made a dramatic change in people’s behaviors, evident with the same, gross, level of trash in the Chattahoochee. I am ultimately glad that I did it because it is always a nice change of pace working with your hands. Knowing that I am actively helping in making a place more beautiful is a good feeling. I would compare it with the same feeling one would get when paying a favor forward or doing someone a good deed.
Something about giving is iust satisfvino and eniovable. [think it is pretty obvious that even though I describe how hard and grueling the work was, I found a deep sense of satisfaction in the work that ultimately made the entire thing verv worth it. | see myself volunteering for Rivers Alive sometime in the near future. Not only was Rivers Alive familiar to me, it seemed all new to me. Coming back to it was not jarring, quite enjoyable in fact. I enjoyed the feeling of satisfaction enough to really believe i would do it again. The opportunity to volunteer with old teachers and even an old friend who decided to join as great, and when the weather was much warmer earlier in the semester, felt disconnected from something as grueling as volunteer work. [ﬁnd myself focusing on a career, school, and my girlfriend a lot more than most things recently Back in high school volunteering was something I could do any day, given I had no previous arrangements with parents.
It was qreat because mv friends were all a part of Rivers Alive right there with me so I never felt a disconnection from any social life. I had all my experiences while helping neighborhoods and several years later; now, the feeling comes back when volunteering again. I would absolutely volunteer again for Rivers Alive and would jump to the opportunity if my old friends coordinated it, too. These days, with different focuses and goals in mind, volunteering is just not an easy thing to do. This semester I’ve had to put a lot of things off for work and school to work with Rivers Alive. The time | see myself volunteering again is when I’m ideally out of school, and little more situated with my personal and work life. The tough work was not enough to keep me away from volunteering, nor will my schedule. I fully intend to make time for Rivers Alive because it’s notjust volunteering, in a way it feels like an old friend.
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