What community service means to me

By YCL Youth Council Membership Director, Jake Berry

What does community service mean to me? This is an interesting question with an answer that means different things to different people.

I’ll start with why I got involved with YCL. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t because I was an aspiring philanthropist. My mom heard about the program at a meeting of some sorts, the likes of which I’m not entirely sure, and told me I should apply to become a part of the program. As a high school junior, it’s not lost on anyone that community service is vital to the college application process. It’s funny that I mention this because my prompt for this blog explicitly said not to say that community service is for college. But here is an important distinction: that is why I got into YCL, not what community service now means to me. What community service means is entirely different than why I got into it. What it means to me now is learning about the Portland Rescue Mission, and having my faith in the world renewed by their rehabilitation program. What it means to me is planting trees in the blazing heat, so that the generations of tomorrow can have a world to live in. How and why you start something is insignificant. Why you continue to do it is what matters.

Helping other people is the most gratifying way to spend your time. In a weird sense, serving others proves to be self-serving. It puts your life in a perspective you may have otherwise lost in this digital age of comparison. It makes me feel like I am doing something that matters and like I have a purpose.

Community service is giving back to the world that has already given me so much. In my position of privilege, I have it all. In context, my stress is insignificant and any pressure I feel is minuscule in comparison to someone looking for their next meal, or the next meal for their child. Giving back means understanding how fortunate I am and how others are less so. It means that I might have the opportunity to make someone else’s hardship they carry, a little less heavy.


Jake Berry

Jake plays basketball and lacrosse and is entering his senior year at Portland’s Lincoln High School. Jake enjoys working at Portland Rescue Mission because he really believes in the work they’re doing to help those with addiction problems.

Kate Begonia