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NIA WALCOTT

  NIA WALCOTT
Volunteering is Cool  

Prior to volunteering with non-profit organization, Soccer and Friends, I found myself to be very selfish and self-centered. Growing up as the oldest of five other siblings, I was mostly preoccupied with my family. Besides school I didn’t socialize much with other children. I was in my own little world, as my peers liked to remind me. And I remained that way well into middle school. 

Only after enrolling in high school at Elizabeth Seton High School, was I required to complete service hours. I dedicated most of my time to Soccer and Friends, a non-profit organization coordinated by Walter Pascoe or “Coach Eugene” as we were fond of calling him. Coach Eugene, close friends with my father, had allowed my friends, family and I to volunteer with his organization on weekends or mostly whenever we were free. 

The volunteers and I would referee youth games, run fundamental soccer drills for the younger kids, and advanced drills for the older and more experienced players. The whole idea is for kids who cannot afford to play competitive soccer with a big named club an opportunity to continue practicing the sport they love. Soccer and Friends gives those without money the chance to continue improving their soccer abilities. 

It was inspiring to watch so many young kids develop and progress into rather skillful players. The kids really enjoyed the opportunity and even more watching their parents encourage them from the sidelines was heart-warming. The service we preformed at Soccer and Friends hardly felt like service at all.

Encouraging others to succeed and improve in the sport that I loved was easy. I recall volunteering several times even after having completed my required hours for the semester. Not only did I enjoy my service, but I found several friendships in the process. Whether they were other volunteers or participants, I made several friendships that I maintain to this day. 

Comparing my attitude pre-Soccer and Friends involvement, I have definitely made dramatic improvement. I am so much more willing to help others. I don’t help not because I’m obligated, but because I genuinely want to. There is no better reward than watching your friends succeed in something they sincerely love doing. I am more social and involved with life outside of my family, and while I love them to death, experience with my peers and lending a helping hand is always important.

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