As the 2016-17 school year came to an end, buildOn students across the country reflected on their experiences serving at home and abroad. Malcolm Elliott, a buildOn junior at TEAM Englewood Community Academy in Chicago, recently shared his personal story about how service has helped him make an impact in his South Side community.
I was born in Chicago and have lived in Englewood my whole life. People in Englewood deal with violence and crime. I often hear about shootings and about people being beat up. My house was broken into in December. These are the types of things that my community goes through.
Around my neighborhood, but also downtown, I’ll see people who are homeless and hungry. I’ve always felt bad about that. I’ve always said to myself, “Man, I want to be the one to step up to the plate and help them out.” By joining buildOn, I’ve been able to do just that.
I went to a service project my freshman year with buildOn where we made sandwiches and passed them out to homeless people downtown. Right then, once I started to pass them out, that’s when I started to get the vibe that what I was doing mattered.
I’ve always said to myself, “Man, I want to be the one to step up to the plate and help (people who are homeless) out.” By joining buildOn, I’ve been able to do just that.
Malcolm regularly spends quality time with the seniors at the Vivian Carter Senior Apartments, located just a few blocks from TEAM Englewood Community Academy on Chicago’s south side.
Since then, I’ve started serving all the time. I go to Kingdom Builders Food Pantry in Englewood every Tuesday to pass out food. I go to the Vivian Carter Senior Apartments often to spend time with the seniors. I feel like I’ve gotten to know everyone at both those places, that I’ve made connections with people in the community. I’ve gotten to know the security guard at Kingdom Builders, and he always tells me to take good care of my mom. Since I’m her only child, I need to step up and take care of her and be there for her.
We’ve also helped out and volunteered at the Salvation Army. Once, we went and packed bags of food and clothes for two hours straight, and the man who worked there said that if we didn’t come, it would have taken him an entire week to do all the work that we did. That really made me happy, because I felt like I made a big difference that day. There’s so many people that are out here that need food and other help in order to take care of their families. I’m happy to be helping them.
I’ve done more than 650 hours of service with buildOn and I keep doing more because that’s me.
I know that some people say that TEAM Englewood is a bad school, but that’s a stereotype. I’m tired of my school getting mistreated. We have hard workers at this school and smart students. We have people who are responsible and serve the community. Service is a big part of my life now. Service means a lot to me because I love giving back to my community and I know that my community loves to see young people helping to create change. I’ve done more than 650 hours of service with buildOn and I keep doing more because that’s me.