Way back in December of 2012, I went to my first activity with the teens at Real Life–the Christmas party. I was overwhelmed with the number of people who showed up, both volunteers and teens. I was very hesitant to pick Real Life as my main service site. I didn’t know what to expect, if I’d get along with the teens and the other volunteers, or if I’d even enjoy volunteering there. Luckily though, a few of my friends convinced me to regularly attend Real Life. . so I did, and I honestly cannot express how grateful I am that I did.
Some of the highlights from my experience at Real Life include:
–ice skating at the Gallivan Center
–learning about finances, and career choices
–doing team builders
–playing minute-to-win-it
–making visual journals
and so many more. Going to Real Life every week, and hanging out with all the new people I’ve grown to love, and created such great friendships with was definitely the highlight of my week, every week. I’ve become so close to each of the teens who regularly attended, and I’ve come to appreciate the friendships I’ve developed with them. I never really realized how strong the friendships we’ve made were, until it occurred to me that this was the last week. I’ve come to know more about each teen. Examples include that Peter runs track-he’s a sprinter, and he’s pretty dang good. Estefanus plays varsity soccer for Cottonwood. I remember when our soccer team (Hillcrest) played Cottonwood, at Hillcrest. I went to that game, and it was so awesome to be able to watch him play! Also, Paw wants to be a professional dancer when she grows up. These are just some of the countless things I’ve learned about these wonderful teens.
     Real Life has taught me more than I could ever write in this blog entry. Not only have I learned the importance of education, and to embrace the opportunities I have to learn, it’s taught me about the value of friendships, consistency, and patience. Sometimes it got to be really loud, and frustrating at Real Life, especially when we were trying to explain a concept, or a game, and everyone was talking. However, I know that even in the most stressful, difficult times, I was taught something. I’ve also learned to be grateful for everything I have. This service opportunity also taught me the valuable concept of having fun! Sometimes we get so caught up in the things we have to do, that we totally overlook the little things that can provide fun and entertainment in our life. I know there were times when I needed to finish a huge project for school, or seemed to have an endless amount of homework~so I didn’t want to attend Real Life that day. I can honestly say that I never regretted going to Real Life, once I went. It provided a wonderful outlet for me, to just relax, and forget all the stress of school, to just enjoy life, and have fun with some of the best friends I’ve made. Real Life is textbook definition of service, in that I gained way more out of this experience than the teens did. I can say that with a surety. I have grown so much for the better. Real Life has become such a huge part of my life, that it kills me inside to think that it’s over.
     I am going to miss Real Life so much. Words can’t adequately explain how much fun I’ve had, how much I’ve learned, and how much these teens have made me a better person. I will be infinitely grateful to everyone from Real Life for the rest of my life. I know that sounds cheesy, and a little cliche. But it’s one of the most sincere statements I’ve made. Thank you, a million times over.

❤Lisa Schneider

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