Stop Following and Start Leading

Be a community leader. Stop following and start leading.

It’s cool to donate your change to charity, but how about creating change? See a need in your community and address it. Don’t ignore the graffiti and litter, don’t complain about it either. Stand up and do something about it.

Pics 1845-2Community service is power. Power to change the world and make it a better place for others. A study done by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that about 64.3 million Americans, or 26.8 percent of the adult population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $171 billion in 2011. The average value of a volunteer hour was estimated to be $21.79. Without volunteers, services for low income families would be impossible to obtain because of the high costs. Tutoring for example can cost up to $70 an hour, while a high school student can tutor for free for unlimited hours.

Community service does not only benefit the people receiving help, but also the volunteers. Volunteers are awarded many mind and body benefits including a wider sense of humility, increased confidence, increased happiness, increased fitness, and reduced risk of depression. Other benefits include skill development, friendship making, career experience, and fun. Crime rates also tend to go down in communities with active volunteers. Service integrates a community and connects people with one another. Anyone can volunteer male, female, black, white, old, young. It is never too early or too late. Whether it is creating a garden or cleaning a stream, volunteers are making a difference in their communities.

Get Involved

By accepting the challenge to create a change, you are also assuming the role as a leader. Leadership is the choice to step in and motivate others to accomplish a goal. It is great to do a good thing. Whether it is to pick up trash for an hour or to tutor one student after school once week, it is amazing to contribute to the community and want to do more. Don’t spend your whole afternoon by yourself picking up trash; get your friends involved. Let them make a difference!

Key Club, Girl Scouts, and Interact Club have realized the power of numbers. Girl Scouts has created so many strong leaders, who attribute their success from volunteering at a young age. In a speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, Hilary Clinton recalls Girl Scouts as the place where she engaged with her “first lessons in leadership”. Clinton “credits this to service opportunities in “organizing food drives and helping out at nursing homes.”


Anyone has the potential to be a leader, and leadership can come in different forms. Some leaders are boastful and have bad intentions for their goals, and this type of leaders may also put people down to get what they want. Good leaders are humble and want to help foster the potential of their followers. Great leaders put others first and do everything they can to make a difference, no matter the sacrifice.

Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, and Harriet Tubman weren’t always leaders, but when they saw a need, they made a choice to step in, and do something. Leadership does take courage and commitment, but it is a skill that can constantly be improved, through practice and experience.

You don’t have to join a service club or volunteer every week. Just by hosting a bake sale for cancer with your friends you are making a difference. No good deed goes unnoticed. The report “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,” by CNCS, found that people who volunteered regularly  had lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. And if for no other reason there is a lot of self-satisfaction in making the world a better place.

Everyone should go out in the world, be a leader, unite people, and create change.  Do not ignore the suffering that is going around you. Many of us have been blessed to have so many gifts and talents, it is only right for us to share them.

Author’s Note: I am a high school junior and I am a community leader. Last year I was awardered a $1,000 grant to implement a grant in my community. I created Scholar Society, a program that aims to foster academic potential, leadership, and community inolvnment in low income and first generation students. If you have any questions on how to start your own project feel free to email me at


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