Lending a helping hand

Staffer talks about how volunteering, giving back to her community helps with her mental health


Junior Celeste Manzano with volunteer group after serving at Transit

Celeste Manzano, Staffer

  Stress and sorrow fill my mind six days a week, but on that one other day, it’s filled with joy and laughter. 

     With seasonal depression upon us, it has indeed found its way to shoot my emotions. I found myself in a bit of an all time low, I didn’t feel like myself, and I wanted to be anyone else but me. I came really close to dyeing and cutting my hair- that’s how you know it was awful. It came to the point where I would walk into class and my friend would ask, “So are you in a good mood or are you sad again?” 

     I found myself not depressed but in a bad state of mind that really affected my mental health. However, volunteering at my church every Sunday made up for it.

     I volunteer at two services, at one I greet middle schoolers and help them check in. I do this with ten other high school students. Hanging out with them truly did a 360 with my emotions. I laugh to the point where my stomach hurts; I see and banter with people who I love that I only get to see once a week which makes my heart happy. 

     After I’m  finished with the first service, I head over to the elementary school section of my church where I lead a group of third graders. Hanging out with these kids is so much fun, even though they are running and screaming most of the time. Being a small group leader for those kids makes my heart full because I know they see me as an adult figure, so I have to be in  my very best mindset to be my best self when I’m around them. 

     Volunteering once a week has helped improve my mental health by counteracting my stress that I carry throughout the week.Being in a joyful environment helps me forget about all the obstacles I have to undergo throughout the week by focusing on having fun and being a bright face.  I have built a support system by volunteering each Sunday and feel more like myself when I’m in a joyful environment.