Editor’s note: Each year, members of the Rotary Club of Fort Worth accompany eighth graders from Fort Worth’s Riverside Middle School, the club’s Adopt a School partner, on a day of service at local nonprofit agencies. The students then write an essay on “Service Above Self,” Rotary’s motto.Rotarians select the top three essays from the STARS project, and the students receive laptop computers and trophies and read their work at a club meeting. Here is the winning essay:Many senior citizens living in Tarrant County do not have a family to turn to, so they rely on the few kind people or community centers who will help them.Most people do not bother to help or put other people’s feelings first, so much less they would want to help senior citizens.Service above self is to consider another person’s feelings and to aid without expecting something in return. When I am considering another person’s feelings, I feel a sense of compassion. I think, “what would I like if I were in their situation?”Going to the Diamond Hill Community Center made me learn that I am not the only person with a need. Compared to the dilemma that many senior citizens face daily, not getting an iPod or new phone for Christmas should be the least of my worries.Service above self also means to do something for someone without expecting anything in return. Sometimes I get so caught up with receiving that I forget about giving.In the New Oxford American Dictionary, “to give” means to “freely transfer the possession of.” When the definition says “freely transfer,” it means to give without boundaries. One of the boundaries for me is the hesitance to do an act of kindness toward someone if I know I am not going to aquire anything in return.Participating in community service helped me realize that I do not need a reward for helping someone. Seeing the bright smiles on the faces of the people at the senior center was payment enough. No other gift could make me feel as good as knowing I did something for someone just out of the kindness in my heart, not expecting anything in return.Without a doubt, going to the Diamond Hill Community Center changed my life. It showed me how a simple act of kindness can brighten someone’s day. Doing community service also showed me that I should use the saying “service above self” in my life.Saying and doing community service taught me that putting others first and doing unrewarded things for others can not only make other people feel good, but also make me feel good.
Del Rose Hooker of Fort Worth will attend Carter-Riverside High School in the fall.