As students, we talk about service on a continuous basis. However, like other commonly used words, service has begun to lose the integrity of its meaning. We often encounter fellow students with passions and ideals for serving others. When hearing this cliché statement, we are forced to wonder the incentives people desire from service.
I grew up in a small town called Petaluma, 45 minutes north of San Francisco. Even though my town is known for chickens, arm wrestling, and pot holes; community service is the pride of the town. When there is a cause in my hometown, the humongous support and commitment demonstrated by the residents is unreal. A couple months ago, my community experienced a horrendous tragedy in which an 8th grader, Trevor Smith, was run over by the boat he was pushing on the side of the road. Friends of the family were devastated and the family was searching to find a reason to live at all. The town was at its lowest morale in recent memory. However, with unbelievable support from the Smiths’ neighborhood along with local business sponsorships, the community put on a carnival for Trevor which showed his favorite movie, Grease. Thousands of people arrived at the carnival which translated into a successful night, ending with hugs and embraces from everyone in the community. Even at its lowest point, leaders took a time of depression and created it into something beautiful.
There were no incentives for this type of service and in reality, there should never be incentives. The only necessary incentive is the sense of accomplishment knowing that you assisted in doing something greater then yourself. You contributed into making a legacy. The carnival is now becoming an annual event in which to remember and appreciate the value of life along with the memory of Trevor. What started as a single fundraising night has now become an annual opportunity for communal camaraderie. When we ask ourselves what is our motivation for service, we should merely state, “service from the heart”. Because at the end of the day, it is the service events fueled with emotions that influence true happiness.