We all come across someone in our life that needs a little extra help. Sometimes its a family member, a friend, or even a complete stranger. Some of us give back by volunteer work at hospitals or nonprofit organizations. Sometimes we lend an extra helping hand or sometimes some money. I think giving back to those who are in need of help is an essential part of being a great person. I have always been raised to help those who are less fortunate than I am and it’s become my passion.

As some already know I have a deep passion for helping others, especially kids with cancer. My journey did not always start with kids that have cancer. It simply started out when I became a volunteer the summer before my freshman year in high school. I originally started volunteering because I knew I needed to turn in service hours. Perks of attending Catholic schools! But that’s where I got started. I started out as a desk receptionist for the first two summers, the third summer I switched to art cart, and finally I continued my volunteering throughout the year. The first year I continued volunteering is where I fell in love with children that were battling with cancer. I met amazing kids and amazing families. One in specific changed my life and continues too daily. Her name was Erica and she was 18 years old when she passed away. Erica was diagnosed in November of 2009 and gained her wings March 2010. You never realize how short life is. She was young, beautiful, and full of life. She had an amazing heart and wanted nothing more than to no longer have cancer free and go back to living her life. The time I spent with her was extremely special. We grew extremely close in a short amount of time, but I appreciated every moment spent with her. When she passed away I was extremely sad and wondered why things like that had to happen to young kids and teens. I learned a lot through her passing and she essentially helped lead me down the road that hopefully I can find my future and career at the end. She helped me realize a lot about myself and what I was capable of accomplishing. I used  her inspiration as I became involved in Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids. A local nonprofit that directly supports kids, teens, and their families financially and emotionally. To be put simply, the organization changed my life. It has taught me skills that I can use in my daily life, event planning, organization, responsibility, and so much more. Most importantly what NC4K has taught me the most is the value of love. You learn a lot when you work with families that have sick children. You learn to love them and appreciate them for everything that they are and support them every step of the way. These families change your life, they teach you to value family, friends, and the great life we’ve been given. Working with these kids to help save their lives can only make sure that I will live a better life. That’s how I see it. Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids filled an empty spot that was once in my heart. I met amazing people and have made life long friends, truly a blessing. Unfortunately due to my school work I had to take a semester off and it sucks. I feel like I am missing a part of me, but that’s what growing up is all about. I had to make the critical decision that would benefit both of us. If I had it my way in life I would never sleep, go to school during the day, and work at night. Unfortunately, sleep is a necessity so I took a break to focus on my education. Although I am not in the office I still keep the kids and families on my mind all the time. What most of you probably do not know is that September is national childhood cancer awareness month. So as you’re reading this think about donating to help save these kids lives because they are the future.

As I have talked about before I am taking a rigorous schedule this semester, but I do enjoy my classes. One in specific captures my attention. I am taking an Intro to Nonprofit Management Public Affairs class. To say the least, I LOVE IT. It is definitely a class I enjoy sitting through and I actually enjoy reading our text books! Who would have ever imagined that a text-book in college could be enjoyable to read. MIND BLOWING. Anyways, there are several reasons why I like this class. First, my professor is pretty awesome. Not only is she a professor, but she also works for a nonprofit known as I Know I Can. What is cool about my professor is that she not only teaches well but she brings in great speakers from various nonprofit organizations. Our first speaker was the director of programs at the Ohio AIDs Coalition. His story was amazing and how he got involved and how he got the job he currently holds. During his junior year of college he tested HIV positive and that’s where his journey began. As he began volunteering as requirements for his major he began to fall in love with the nonprofit sector. He educated us on the statistics of those living with AIDs or HIV positive, he also educated us on lack of government funding and how it affects organizations. Most importantly he educated our class on the importance of advocacy in an organization. He was extremely informative, but there was one thing that struck me the most during his speech. He talked a lot about government funding and how it can disappear overnight for organizations. He also pointed out how drastically funding and support can change for an organization depending on what political party is in office. What struck me most listening to him speak about the damage that could affect the HIV/AIDs community was astonishing and sad. To think our government works in a way that depending on what political party comes to office will decide benefits, outcomes, and progress for organizations such as the OAC and the lives of people they support. This goes for all organizations. You do not really realize all the positives and negative outcomes that government can inflict on people they support or that they don’t support. I am no political genius by any means and I will not be the person to campaign for a certain person. What I am pointing out is the fact that when a certain party comes into office it is not always understood by the public of how positively or negatively it can affect the lives of others. To imagine a world where there were no sides and all people were able to come to a general agreement would be nice, but impossible. When the director of OAC was explaining his story, his future, and his job you could feel the enlightenment and the passion he had to bring a change in the world. He was courageous and a strong-willed person who was able to share his story and has decided to rise above and bring a change.

Along with the director of programs of the OAC our professor has also brought in a woman from the Central Ohio Women’s Fund to speak about inspiring evangelists. Her story was not as capturing as the OAC’s director, but I enjoyed listening to the organizations’ mission. She gave us tips to inspire others to join a cause we believe in. She told us that positivity was key to inspiring evangelists to join your cause. She was extremely informative and was able to give us useful tips about working in the nonprofit sector. So far I’ve enjoyed the class, but I love hearing about local organizations that bring change in our community. It inspires me to join them for at least one day. To educate myself on the various dynamics of different nonprofits and to extend a helping hand to those in need. You can learn something from anyone if you allow yourself too.

I believe when you do good for others that good things will come to you. Do good things to supplement your life with positive people, inspiring moments, and life changing experiences. The picture I included for this post is a picture of two children that have filled my life with so much joy for the short amount of time I’ve known them. This picture was captured during my walk down the catwalk with Samuel on the left and his sister, Trinity on the right. Samuel is one of my little heroes I met through NC4K. His family is amazing and inspiring. I love these two kids more than you can imagine and they inspire me to do good.

xoxo Brooke


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