By Henry Stevens, Teacher and Coach
When I was a 9th grader, my mother signed me up to volunteer at a local nursing home. Every Saturday I visited Kendal at Ithaca for two hours and watched old movies, played board games, and had conversations with the residents. At first, they did not seem too interested in my questions, so I would just sit with them and quietly watch the movie that was playing. However, after a few weeks the same people would leave an open seat for me next to them and were even starting to engage in conversations. Over time, the residents began to warm up to me, and it was then that I truly embraced this experience.
These afternoons became exciting to me because it was clear the difference that I made to the residents. I was drawn to the instant gratification of volunteering and enjoyed seeing the smiles on people’s faces during board games or listening to them talk about the difference between Gregory Peck, Rock Hudson, and Clark Gable. As a high school student, this feeling was enough to get me to continue to volunteer. Only now, however, have I realized the long-term effect that volunteering has had on me.
In the winter of 2012, I first went to the Falmouth Service Center to help with the Thanksgiving food drive. The next year, the basketball team joined me. This year, we had more than 30 Falmouth Academy students join the effort. This event brings the students together and has become a highlight of the basketball season. Every year, students ask to go to the Service Center because they are enthusiastic about volunteering. They are excited to see the members of the Service Center smile as they walk in, or say hello to people they recognize dropping off turkeys. It is a pleasure to see a senior try to carry a box filled with nine turkeys, or a ninth grader sorting the canned food. They get to see the results of their labor. Still, it’s even more important for them to understand that there are greater results that might remain unseen.
One aspect that I admire about Falmouth is the responsibility that residents take for the town and the efforts that they go to in order to help. The Thanksgiving food drive is an example of a community rallying together for a greater cause, helping families who are in need. Falmouth Academy is a part of this community; therefore it is part of our identity to give back. The food drive is not the only community service that FA students participate in; they serve at Mullen Hall, JML, and the Cape Cod Marathon. We also help the Service Center in other ways such as organizing toys in preparation for the holidays and collecting hats, mittens, socks, scarves and other warm items. These are opportunities for the school to give back to a town that thrives on its members working together. At Falmouth Academy, we volunteer because we love this community and will do what is necessary to ensure its wellbeing.
I never imagined that students would take to volunteering so eagerly. As a member of the greater Falmouth community, we see these volunteering efforts as important in defining Falmouth Academy students as any of their activities in the school. Much like the nursing home in Ithaca, the Town of Falmouth relies on the support of volunteers working together, and I know that the Falmouth Academy community will always find a way to help.