As I’m writing this, it just so happens to be National Volunteer Week! Thank you to all of those who serve in different ways across the globe, both in and out of the American Heart Association. You all have such a positive impact on our communities, and know none of your efforts go unappreciated!
I have been so thrilled to be partnered with the AHA as an advocate during my year of service as Miss Wyoming 2017. As you may or may not know, the four points of the Miss America crown stand for scholarship, style, service, and success. My personal favorite is SERVICE! Becoming involved with the Miss America Organization has ignited a true passion for service in my heart. Even as a child growing up and going through high school, I filled my days with extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities to stay involved in my community and give back when I could. I’ve been involved with local and national organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Volunteers of America, National Honor Society, Operation Christmas Child student government associations, weekend food backpack programs, animal shelters, soup kitchens, food banks, etc. When I was crowned Miss Wyoming 2017, I was blessed with the opportunity to take my passion for meeting and serving others to another level by becoming an advocate and goodwill ambassador for two additional national organizations: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the American Heart Association!
However, my heart for service neither began nor will end with a crown, and a national title is definitely not necessary for you to begin giving back to your community! A motto that I try to stick to every day (even when I’m just being regular Cheyenne the college student), is to “leave people better than you found them.”
Service is a gift you can give others every single day, in large and small capacities. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people tend to get stuck in a mindset that just because they are busy, or just because they don’t have a lot of spare money, they can’t serve others. That could not be farther from the truth! Each of us has different gifts, talents, and passions. They’re part of what makes us unique as individuals! When we choose to think outside the box and share them to help others, everybody benefits. (That’s right- I usually get just as much, if not more out of serving others as those I serve get from me! It is so rewarding to give back!)
While you certainly can choose to give to a charity or nonprofit organization financially (and they do need you to, every penny counts!) serving doesn’t always have to be financial contributions- it can be as simple as donating food or used clothing, volunteering to play with the animals at your local animal shelter, becoming involved with a community organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters, serving food at a nearby soup kitchen or shelter, making cards for sick children in your town’s hospital, or even going out of your way to hold a door and smile at someone. I’m a huge believer that service borders on kindness, and both of them are contagious. The world could use a little more of each!
Even better, that also means that volunteering does not have an age or financial limit. If you don’t have money, give time! If you don’t have time, give money! If you don’t have either of them, find another way to use your gifts to spread a little light! It is all so appreciated. If you’re a teenager or young adult, don’t wait to get started giving back to your community right away. Service can be a great way to become involved, meet new people, and thank others for what you have yourself. Maybe you’re going to college in a new town- make some business connections by volunteering at the next fundraising event! You never know where those connections will take you. If you’re a teenager looking to boost your resume before applying to the college or university of your dreams, get involved! There are countless ways to ignite your passions and use them to have a positive impact.
As Miss Wyoming 2017, I try to stay active serving throughout my state in different communities by logging 25+ service hours per week. Honestly, my service appearances are some of my favorites! Like I said though, service doesn’t always have to be extreme gestures-every 30 minutes, or $5 donation counts. We all have something to give, so why not give it? You’re never too young to start!
But wait, I’m not done yet! It gets BETTER! The American Heart Association is a great place to start if you’re looking for an opportunity to serve. Volunteers are the backbone of any successful organization, and certainly all of the incredible work of the AHA would not be possible without each and every one of its volunteers, advocates, and donors! (If you’re already involved, thank you!) Contact your state AHA organization, or click the links listed below to find more information on how you can become an advocate or volunteer at an upcoming fundraiser. You are saving lives by being a heart hero! Absolutely anyone can become involved with the AHA, and they will find the perfect opportunity for you to use your talents to serve.
In fact, I challenge you today to join me in serving others by getting involved with the lifesaving advocacy work of the American Heart Association. Add your voice by simply texting HEART to 46839 right now, or visit www.yourethecure.org/join. It only takes a few minutes, and you will be part of a powerful movement to make a difference and save lives. Remember, “You’re the Cure, WY,” and “Volunteers are WY!”
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” We can all serve, so go get involved in something you’re passionate about today, and start making a difference!
Forever your Miss Wyoming 2017 and AHA Advocate,