Alternative Winter Break More Than a Material Contribution

By Sharon Schoenfeld
Olya works on her grill cheese making skills at PATH

Today I realized that I can make a bigger impact than I thought. I’m not talking about writing a billion dollar check but I’m talking about making a meal and playing games and putting a smile on someone’s face. That’s how I can contribute. It doesn’t have to be material objects, it can be just as easy as spreading a little happiness. Seeing how happy everyone was today and seeing how everyone was enjoying and basking in the holiday spirit and being jolly and happy regardless of their situation. It made me realize that I should be thankful for every little thing in my life and every gift I am given and blessed with.

Today I talked to this man for about an hour. He was around the age of forty, and regardless of the age difference between us, we were able to carry a long, wonderful conversation about nothing in particular. We weren’t discussing anything heavy, the two of us were merely talking and joking. I was able to talk to him as if I was talking to someone that I’ve known for years. I got to know quite a lot about him and other residents at PATH, and I’ve really come to appreciate their stories and the perseverance that they have shown through their hardships.

I really admire everyone that I was blessed to have met, I feel like the experience has helped shaped my understanding of what our society has become today and what my position in helping is. I didn’t realize time was passing by while talking to him, and I’m so appreciative of the little time that I did get. This trip has made me come to the conclusion that not only have I been blinded and turning my head the other way when it comes to the tragedies in our society, but it has also made me realize just how much I’ve been missing out on various opportunities to interact with people just like me.

~ Olya Zwerner – 11th Grade, Atlanta, Georgia

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