Scarlet Day of Service is a yearly event held by the Student Volunteer Council. For the past three years, I’ve always wanted to partake in the event, but I’ve somehow missed registration every time, for the past three years.
Since OCSA is actively looking for different opportunities in community service, I knew that I couldn’t miss it this year! Thanks to Henah’s persistence, and my lack of ignorance this year, I attended my first ever Scarlet Day of Service!
Scarlet Day of Service made me realize how many different locations in just our local area really need help from students through community service. Sure, we hear a lot around campus about how different organizations are each helping certain groups and locations, but Scarlet Day of Service brings all of those groups that need help and puts them “under one roof.” This way, students can see how many different locations there are that need help. This aspect of the day motivated me to make sure I did the best I could to contribute, but it also motivated me to bring this information back to OCSA for future community service opportunities.
After getting to the event and spending fifteen minutes debating on which location we wanted to volunteer at, Nihitha and I decided to choose the Raritan Valley YMCA. We were really excited because when you have a group of friends and you’re doing volunteer work, it’s pretty easy to have a good time. Since registration started at 10:15 AM and the buses weren’t leaving until almost noon, we had a lot of time sitting around in the multipurpose room. SVC members were trying to get students to show their enthusiasm and get them pumped up to volunteer. After a few exercises that they led on-stage, students still weren’t too excited. If there’s one thing I’ve learned at Rutgers, it’s that when an opportunity is presented to you, take it and run like hell. I knew that this was a fantastic opportunity to do the interlude dance that we did at the Student Life Unified Training!!
I promptly found Steph and offered my suggestion of doing the dance with the volunteers. Steph had the same idea and was ecstatic about it! We found some volunteers, got on stage, and danced the morning away! Of course, not all students participated in the dance because they were probably “too cool,” but I can assure you that they probably regret it to this day!
Once the buses came and we all went our separate ways, we found ourselves at the Raritan Valley YMCA and the Operations Manager was really happy to see us. He explained how the whole facility is maintained by himself and only one other person. The Raritan Valley YMCA is far from a small facility and everyone was very surprised that there were only two people maintaining it.
After eating lunch, it was time to choose our jobs for the day. One of the members in our group volunteered us to weed around the perimeter of the building. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I’m not a fan of weeding…. but who is anyway? I accepted the fact that I was going to have to weed and got over it.
Once the Operations Manager showed us what to do, it was time to work! I then realized that once we worked together as a group of five, it really wouldn’t be that bad to get the job done. Nihitha and I weeded the perimeter of the building, Pranusha cleaned up by the electrical box while Peter and Veronica cleaned up the tree debris all around the landscape of the YMCA. We had a lot of laughs, enjoyed each other’s company, and just had a good time talking to each other in general, all while volunteering and giving back to the community!
After a hard day’s work, we finished up and played some intense basketball inside the YMCA. Work hard, play hard, right?
The Operations Manager couldn’t thank us enough for all that we did that day. He explained that in total, we did about 45 man hours of work for the facility in just a few hours. This meant a lot to everyone because not only did we work hard to make the YMCA look better, but we also made an impact on this man’s life since he can focus on other projects around the YMCA due to the few hours we spent volunteering and making such an impact on the facility.
Overall, I learned a lot about volunteer work and how much help is needed in our local area. However, I learned even more about servant leadership. It’s great when students find community service events for an organization to participate in, but if those students aren’t even at any of the events they suggested, it’s counterproductive. The leadership aspect is good because students look for new opportunities, but it isn’t good if students don’t help in serving and fixing the issues that exist in the area.
Walking away from the event, I realized that I got more out of the day than the Operations Manager did at the YMCA. I am very happy that I finally got the awesome opportunity to participate in Scarlet Day of Service this year. Additionally, I hope that I can teach my fellow OCSA members about servant leadership and how important it is to serve before leading when it comes to community service. Thanks SVC!!!