- Frankie Smith
An Organization That Changed My Perspective On Community Service
My school puts a huge emphasis on community service. It is a huge part of the school’s core values and I constantly receive emails regarding local service opportunities. Over the pandemic, this system was a little bit different. I began to see more announcements about online opportunities, one of them being digital outreach with Luv Michael. To be honest, the sheer amount of hours that the organization was awarding initially caught my attention. I logged onto the information zoom with very little expectations, strictly business.
The representative opened with a presentation about what autism is and how we can be allies to the community. She showed us a young girl who spread awareness regarding autism on TikTok and pictures from the Luv Michael bakery. As I saw this inside peek into the bakery and the real effects of Luv Michael’s work, this “strictly business” mindset began to fade away and I actually became invested in the cause. The goal was no longer the volunteer credit I would receive, it was about spreading awareness and fundraising. This varied from any service I had experienced before: usually, I just go in, do some work, and leave without a thought about it. But Luv Michael was different in the sense that I actually learned something about a community that I wasn't too familiar with. I understood the purpose of the work: to train, educate, and employ autistic adults who have talents and skills just as other adults do.
That summer, I worked crafting messages to all of my family members, friends, and other loved ones. Luv Michael made the process so easy too, as they provided a step by step guide, walked me through building my campaign page, and even gave a sample message template. I ended up raising over $450 for the organization over the course of a couple weeks. For me though, the most rewarding part was knowing that I was spreading awareness on a subject that is pretty underrepresented otherwise. For the company, the most rewarding part was the donations received, which greatly helped expand their bakery business, allowing them to employ more autistic adults.
A couple months later, I received an email from another Luv Michael coordinator about becoming a Luv Michael team leader. Again, I went into an information session with no expectations, except this time I had a passion for helping the organization and advocating for its cause. Yet again, I was met with another unexpectedly amazing opportunity that Luv Michael did an amazing job of facilitating. Within a few weeks, I communicated with the Christian service organizer at my school and created a team of students to do the same digital outreach that I had done over the summer. I was in direct communication with Luv Michael’s volunteer coordinators who were incredibly responsive and helped me with whatever I needed.
For the rest of the school year, I led my team to raise over $3,000 by answering questions, helping them navigate the volunteer process, creating my own tool kit for them to follow, and sending update emails. The whole team-leading process went so smoothly and spread further awareness about autism. It was such a win-win: students get hours, the organization gets donations.
As a teen, I am constantly told that I can make a difference or that I am the future. This never really resonated with me until I started working with this organization. Volunteering with Luv Michael really shows how powerful teens are. We have the power to not only make a difference in our community, but also in ones far away. By simply using my phone and texting a couple people, I helped create a job opportunity for someone who may not have gotten one otherwise. Now imagine if a team did it, or a school, or just your friend group. Luv Michael makes it easy for you to make a difference, and by getting one or two other people on board to make a difference as well, the effects of your service will be amplified immensley.
Now we are here, about a year after I started working with the organization, and I am an intern writing articles for the organization. Luv Michael has changed my perspective on what real community service is. It gave me an outlet for inciting real change. It provided me with an opportunity to learn about a different community. It also gave me a one stop shop for granola! What I have gained from my experience with the non-profit will last a lifetime, and I hope yours does too. Visit https://luvmichael.com/volunteer/ for more information on volunteering.