Volunteering with Generation On at PS 57 in East Harlem on Martin Luther King Day was a different sort of service experience. I, along with a group of other Friends students, acted as a “volunteer leader,” leading tables at which members of the East Harlem community could complete service activities (like decorating bracelets or scarves for children with HIV/AIDs, making toys for dogs and cats in a nearby animal shelter, or putting together scrapbooks describing the importance of MLK day).
Our role in the service wasn’t directly “serving;” rather, it was helping other people, people possibly less exposed to the idea of service than we are, do their own service for the community — but what we were doing, helping others serve, was in itself a sort of service. This whole multi-layered, serving-by-helping-others-serve concept was what made my experience with Generation On really unique. I didn’t feel the whole time like the community members necessarily needed my help — the activities were for the most part simple and straightforward. Nonetheless, I found it gratifying to play whatever small part I did play in helping others give back to their community.