by Shanon Winston
Shanon Winston is a Jumpstart Alum and student at California State University (CSU) of Fullerton obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science. She is also a Volunteer Coordinator with AmeriCorps at Western Youth Services where she is helping to build the volunteer program through business relationships, recruiting, fundraising, and community engagement.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have always been a strong believer that it is better to give than to receive. I have always enjoyed helping others but what I enjoy more is when I know that what I am doing benefits someone else. This return on the investment of one’s time and effort is worth more than anything money can buy; I feel great afterwards and others walk away knowing that someone cares.
This Monday, January 19, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a powerful day where millions of people come together in service and dialogue. National service is very important to me because I’ve seen first-hand that you can truly make a large-scale impact while building relationships and understanding the needs of your own community. The more relationships you build, the stronger your involvement, and the more skills you acquire. The gratification you feel encourages you to continue serving, just as it has done for me.
My first true experience with community giving in a national program setting was with Jumpstart in my first and third years of college. Although my major was in the health field, I saw a flyer on campus advertising the Jumpstart program and it sparked my interest in working with children. My freshman year I started as a Corps member on a team of six other college students, knowing that I wanted to grow in service, but not as confident as to how I would be able to do that. Jumpstart was the answer to my growth as a community member and leader!
Through the Jumpstart program I not only had the opportunity to work with my partner child, but with his family, his teachers, and of course my team and the Jumpstart staff. One of my favorite moments was seeing my partner child’s parents thank me for helping him to become a more focused reader and have the ability to pronounce his words more clearly. I was also honored to have CSU film some of the time I spent in the Jumpstart classroom to use as footage for teaching child-initiated play.
My experience with Jumpstart brought me closer to my peers, gave me the confidence that I could do anything, improved my leadership and team building skills, and inspired me to continue to serve in the safety and health field.
Like me, many of the people I worked with through the Jumpstart program went on to become professionals, volunteers, and advocates in the field of education. My experience with Jumpstart brought me closer to my peers, gave me the confidence that I could do anything, improved my leadership and team building skills, and inspired me to continue to serve in the safety and health field. In addition to now working as a Volunteer Coordinator with AmeriCorps at Western Youth Services, I have also served for two years on the board for the Orange County Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).
I am inspired by new things every day, but service is certainly at the top of my list. I am a huge believer in national service and Jumpstart helped me have the confidence to become a leader not only in my community but to spread by wings and think even more nationally. I couldn’t agree more that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is certainly not a day off, but a day on. It is a day to reflect on all of the amazing leaders of our past, present, and future. I am honored to be a Jumpstart alum and hope that others will join me on their own journey of national service and celebrate this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!