Fiona is a soon-to-be English Teaching Assistant at the University of Nebraska-Omaha who is dependent on art to keep her alive. When she’s not writing creative nonfiction about gender, astrology or how to make the human experience better, she’s trying to find her new favorite horror movie.
As a college intern for SHARE Omaha, we asked her to write a little bit about why she is moved to give back to the community. Pledge to volunteer alongside her and hundreds more here.
As a member of the Omaha community I am compelled to get out and do things that benefit others- classes and tests aside. I am lucky to be working with a nonprofit that cares about all aspects of the Omaha metro's livelihood- and my job with UNO’s Collaborative of student volunteer leads encourages it. But since I’m in college, it’s also more difficult to find the time and resources to do so.
One of my colleagues, who will graduate with me in May, is the person I look up to the most at UNO when it comes to volunteerism. Though it is a struggle, with the help of UNO’s Collaborative and their Signature Service Days, which are held once every month or so and are open to all community members, we can both dedicate time in our schedules and do some good. I asked her about what it means to her.
"This phrase is used all the time, but it’s giving back. It’s one avenue of doing something that isn’t just in your self-interest, which I feel is sometimes the default. Doing community work is knowing I’m putting out positivity and love to people I don’t even know and hoping they feel it and give it back. It makes me feel fulfilled and happy, and I think it’s more necessary than ever now.”
The past few years, Peyton and I have helped organize the largest student-led LGBTQ+ conference in the nation, which was held in Omaha in 2018- and organize events for the University’s Queer and Trans Services, an office space and social group for the school's LGBTQ+ students. It’s something both of us are compelled to do because we’re both in this community- and we know that the love we put out is the love we receive from one another.
"As director, I’m in charge of planning events and making sure people feel welcomed in the space. Even people that don’t go in the office benefit from what we do.”
But this is just one example- It’s not just about helping out people like you. I think I have been compelled through my life to volunteer, being raised in a church that emphasizes open-hearted mission over everything and a family that spreads across the country, because it is how I feel most fulfilled in my own life. Wanting everyone around us to benefit from good works is what gets us out of our own neighborhoods and interest groups- it seems that paying it forward is really the least we can do. This is why I’m becoming a teacher, for the next few years at least- so I can stay in the community that’s maintained me and make it even better.