I first came into contact with Ometz when I was 17 years old. I realized at that time that giving feels a lot better than receiving, and wanted to get involved with my community. I first started by being involved in the mentoring program for three years. This allowed me to be in contact with other members of my community that I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet. Since I am an only child, I have never had the experience of having a little sister, or someone to look over.
The mentoring program allowed me to connect with people a few years younger than me, to motivate them to pursue their goals despite their difficult circumstances. However, I feel as though I learned more from these kids than they learned from me. They managed busy schedules, busy home lives filled with unpredictable events and still succeeded to achieve their goals. The humility and respect with which these young people interacted with others, taking pride in their achievements without becoming boisterous, was refreshing given the rise in narcissistic traits amongst people my age.
After mentoring, I stayed with Ometz to tutor an individual with learning disabilities. Although it was challenging at first, we were able to develop a very special relationship. While tackling three languages at a Jewish day school, this child recognized he was different than his peers, but did not let it affect how he behaved, for he was still unapologetically himself. I can say that this latter experience hit close to home.
The take home message I received from Ometz is that you never only help one person when you volunteer. In helping one person, especially a young person, you help their family, and by proxy, the community at large. Paying it forward is a value I had in me but my experience with Ometz has solidified it.