March 21, 2014 is a day I will never forget. At 3:30 A.M., while my family was fast asleep, our house had rigorously erupted into flames, engulfing our entire house with it. We barely escaped before the fire swallowed my entire bedroom and upstairs hallway. Had I been in my bedroom for just 30 seconds more, I would have been killed right there. For over an hour, my family and I sat on our back gazebo watching the house we grew up in burn second my second.
Once the firefighters put out the flames, we went inside to see if we could save anything, but everything had been destroyed either by the fire, water, or smoke. Walking inside was like walking into a haunted house: it was dark with black char marks all across the walls, the lights had melted and dropped from the ceiling, and the stairs were wobbling. It was a nightmare to walk through. We had no clothes, no shoes, no food, no car, and no house. We had truly lost everything.
Just as all hope seemed lost, later that afternoon, news spread about the fire to our community. People from all over Shelby County were racing to our house with loads of boxes to donate items to us. We received food, clothes, toiletries, and some of my friends bought me new school supplies. At that very moment, I truly learned the value of the fourth line in the FFA Motto: Living to Serve.
Ever since the fire, I have made it my mission to serve as a leader by emphasizing the power of serving others. The Salvation Army was one of the first organizations to respond to my family after the fire.They guided us into their facility and allowed us to take what we needed. They truly lifted us from a dark gorge I felt we were trapped in. That winter, I learned that the Salvation Army gathers volunteers to ring those bells with the red kettle at stores during the Christmas season to financially aid with their organization. I signed myself up and have rang those bells for 5 years straight now, averaging approximately 15 hours of bell ringing each year. The Salvation Army helped me and my family when we were in times of despair, and it’s my mission to give back to them.
I am lucky enough to have a roof over my head, a hot meal on my plate, and a warm bed to sleep in every day, but there was a point in my life where I didn't have those luxuries, and there are families out there who don't have them as well. My entire attitude on life changed when my community came together to serve my family. Stepping up as a leader to help someone in need can make anyone's day better. The power of Living to Serve is limitless. Indiana FFA, I challenge you to find ways you can serve others and recognize the potential that any act of kindness can create.
Living to serve,
2020-2021 Indiana FFA State President