Pictured: Wexner Service Corps members prepare a greenhouse for an organic garden at a local community center.

Click here to watch a brief video and learn more about the Wexner Service Corps. 

I am grateful for a very rewarding and beautiful completion of our Wexner Service Corps year (you can see all of my WSC posts here).Today, we had our final volunteering session. We went to St. Stephens Community Center and helped them mow and rake and prepare their gardens so that they will be able to produce organic fruits, vegetables, and tilapia. This garden will be a great opportunity for them to get community members involved in their mission while educating them about healthy foods, how to grow their own gardens, and  also giving them more produce to supply to families. 

I have been so honored to be a part of the Wexner Service Corps. It has given me more genuine satisfaction and pride than almost anything in my life. We are an innocent little group of 40 teens who have been born into privileged homes where we have never had to worry about whether or not there would be food on the table, or if we would be able to get a new backpack for school, or even if we would still have a home if a natural disaster wreaked havoc. While I am supremely grateful not to have experienced these hardships myself, I have been changed by working with and helping people who have.

When we had our final discussion at the end of our service today, we took it as an opportunity to reflect on our entire year. We were told to think about times when we felt like we helped a ton and felt like this group of 40 people had the power to change the world. And to contrast that victory with times when we felt like we achieved nothing. Then, we were each handed a box. Inside, was an artist’s work. Two woven pieces of cloth tied together. One tells us that we are “but dust and ashes” while the other tells us each that “for me, the world was created”. We are advised to keep them in our pockets. On days when nothing goes right and our world seems to crash around us, we should pull out the piece that reads “for me, the world was created,” and on days when we feel invincible and like we can do no wrong, we are to bring ourselves down to earth reading “I am but dust and ashes”.

But most importantly, we are advised to note that these two statements are physically tied together, as they should be in our hearts and in our souls. There is no life full of only victorious days and, hopefully, there is no life full of only losing days. But life is a balance. And all we can do, the most we can strive for, is to have more victorious days — to tip the scale in the favor of good. To do everything we can to be a force of good for ourselves and for the people we love, and for all the people we can possibly reach.

Naomi Benatar is a senior at Upper Arlington High School who takes classes at The Ohio State University.  She will be a freshman at The Ohio State University studying nursing in the fall. In her spare time, she loves to volunteer, play the piano, sing, create paintings, drawings, pottery and other 3D art, hang out with siblings and friends, read, do nail art, henna, and decorate elaborate cakes.