We are just two weeks away from accepting submissions for our Annual Teen Essay Contest. As we prepare to receive essays from teenagers all over Connecticut, I had a chance to catch up with last year’s first place winner Caitlin Wardlow this week. Caitlin, now a freshman at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, shared with me how she got started volunteering and the impact it’s had on her over the last few years. Check out our interview below!
Volunteer Square: When did you first start volunteering and where?
Caitlin Wardlow: I started volunteering at the Stratford Library in the summer of 8th grade. A representative from the library visited my school to talk about volunteer opportunities for teenagers and I signed up. I volunteered at the library until the summer of my senior year of high school.
VS: What did you like most about volunteering at the Stratford Library?
CW: I enjoyed working with families and kids and getting to know them over the years. I worked on the summer reading program and helped with events. It was a great experience.
VS: Were you involved with any other volunteer projects during high school?
CW: I was in the Kiwanis club all through high school and I was the president during my senior year. One of the things I coordinated was the annual turkey drive that donated over 200 turkeys to charities at Thanksgiving.
VS: How did volunteering help you prepare for college?
CW: It helped me with the college interview process and on my resume. When I graduated from high school I had almost 350 service hours from the Stratford library. I also learned I love working with people during my time as a volunteer and ended up becoming a Public Relations major.
VS: Are you involved in any volunteer projects on your college campus?
CW: Not right now because of my class schedule, but I always tell people about my volunteer background and encourage them to get in involved in their community.
VS: Why did you enter the Volunteer Square Teen Essay Contest last year?
CW: I entered the contest because I had always been involved with volunteering and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to not only share my experience, but shine a light on my volunteer site, the Stratford Library, and all the wonderful things they do.
VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with young people that are preparing for about community service projects?
CW: Definitely get involved as a volunteer in high school. I was a very shy person before I started at the library and through my work there I realized I loved working with people and I became more outgoing. You will see a change in yourself when you get involved in your community, even if you aren’t looking to change, you will see the positive impact it makes on you as a person.
VS: Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me Caitlin and congratulations again on being named the first place winner last year and for all the wonderful service you do for your community.
CW: You’re welcome!
To enter the Annual Teen Essay Contest, tell us in 500 words or less “What Community Volunteering Means to You?” Submissions will be accepted from October 24th – November 7, 2016. Rules and requirements can be found here, we can’t wait to hear from you!
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