No Longer a Helping Hand

Illustration by: Ana Farano

Marie E. Rodriguez, Website Editor

Volunteering once was an act of kindness and willingness that was performed by those who truly wanted to help make a change. It would be discrediting, though, to say all volunteering today is now done completely for selfish reasons. However, the meaning and reasons behind volunteering has drastically changed.

The definition of ‘ volunteer’ is to perform a service willingly and without pay. It is evident that students do volunteer; however, pay is often included, though not always in monetary form, but instead with the hopes of getting into a better college. This completely strips the entire purpose of the gesture. Volunteering for one’s own needs does not fulfill the willingness that is involved with volunteering. This opportunistic attitude towards volunteering takes away from the entire notion of it being for the sake of helping the community.

How often is it that students are encouraged to volunteer for resume-padding? Resume-padding is a term used when students take part in an activity or event just to be able to strengthen their application or resume. This is often done by high school students who are preparing their college application. It is common for volunteering to be a requirement in order to attend or graduate from many high schools and colleges worldwide, thus, twisting the motives of young people today.

Resume-padding is a narcissistic motive of today’s youth when negotiating volunteering. For example, the new requirement for seniors to complete ten hours of community service is a sneaky way to get students to “volunteer.”  Required volunteering automatically makes the act involuntary. Giving students the opportunity to volunteer may actually provide them with valuable lessons and memorable experiences, but again, the only reason they may have volunteered in the first place is for academic course work. Doing kind acts for one’s own gain is the complete antithesis of volunteering.

Twenty juniors at BCCHS were asked if they would volunteer to make their college application look more competitive. Fourteen of those juniors replied yes. This poll shows just how much motives have changed behind volunteering. What happened to volunteering from the good of one’s heart and helping those in need of honest assistance? Perhaps that way of thinking is now nonexistent and that is why volunteering has needed to become a requirement.

Volunteering is no longer a helping hand in the world today. It is only a selfish way for individuals to meet their own criteria. Required volunteering and resume-padding are only a few reasons why volunteering is no more than a selfish act that is done by many. What once was a community helper is now a mischievous, self-centered performance.