Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Little Service Sunshine

by Alexa Vaghenas
2016 Most Valuable Student Scholar, Yale University


College students often become enclosed in a sort of "bubble" over the course of four years, wrapped up in their studies and social lives, preoccupied by extracurricular activities and on-campus events. Although this can lead to individual growth, unforgettable experiences, and admirable accomplishment, too often we forget about the greater community around us. On Friday November 18, I volunteered at the New Haven Sunrise Cafe for Elks Scholar Service Days. A freshman at Yale University, I knew it was time to pop the "Yale Bubble" and give back to the small city of New Haven; my new home.

As a Sunrise Cafe volunteer, I was tasked with serving breakfast to the homeless. Shifting my sleep schedule a bit to get up at 6:45 on a Friday morning, I walked several blocks to the basement of St. Paul and St. James Episcopal Church and followed the cheery logo of the Sunrise Cafe. In the kitchen, a small but mighty assembly line of students was gathered around the tables of pancakes, sausage, cereal, granola bars, fresh bananas, orange juice, and freshly blended fruit smoothies. Our job was to match the food to the customer's order and then pass the tray along to the waitress, who would officially gift these men and women with their free and healthy breakfast. At some moments, the orders came in so quickly we forgot to pour milk into the cereal! At other moments, the rate at which the pancakes and sausages could be cooked held us back, but that only gave us the opportunity to strike up pleasant conversation with the kitchen staff and surrounding volunteers. It was quite a sunny way to start my day! (Pun intended.)

Both myself and the homeless found a home Friday morning in the Sunrise Cafe. Although short-lived, by volunteering for those not fortunate enough to have a home, I found a sense of connection and community that, previously in my fall semester, had been missing. No matter what obligations we have, it is so important not to become so consumed by our individual lives that we forget to give back. Service makes us humble, genuine, and human. It is these core values that the Elks National Foundation represents, and I sincerely thank the organization for all the goodness they promote. Without them and their advocating for the Elks Scholar Service Days, who knows how long it would have taken to add a little service sunshine into my day? 

For more information about the Elks Scholar Service Days click here.

In 2016-17, the Elks National Foundation appropriated $4.2 million to fund the ENF scholarship program, which provides college scholarships, ensuring a bright future for our nation’s youth. As important parts of the Elks family, Elks scholars have many social and service opportunities to connect with the Elks and each other. For more information about our scholarship programs, and for ways Lodges can get involved with Elks scholars, visit enf.elks.org/scholarships.

1 comment :

  1. Hey Lex

    I loved your article and it was very well written ! I really liked your statement - "Service makes us humble, genuine, and human."

    Your smile is the epitome of sunshine!

    I hope other such service opportunities come your way...

    Love you Lex

    ~ mom

    ReplyDelete