By Anna Arsova
Originally from St. Simons Island, Ga., Elizabeth has been volunteering since her high school days. She has participated in raising money for local charities in Georgia, has taken two trips to assist in the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief, built homes for Habitat for Humanity, and is currently a mentor in the Communities in Schools program at the McNair Academy in North Charleston.
Elizabeth’s outgoing personality and motivation to succeed has made her a force to be reckoned with on campus. She is currently a senator in the Student Government Association and has worked on several political campaigns during her college career, including Governor Nikki Haley’s recent successful campaign to become South Carolina's first woman and minority governor.
Elizabeth enjoys making a difference through selfless volunteering acts in her community. Here’s what else she had to say…
About Elizabeth Pappas:
Hometown: St. Simons Island, Ga.
Major: Corporate Communication and Political Science
Expected Graduation: May 2012
What do you enjoy most about community service?
Giving back to my community. My mentorship at the McNair Academy helps me realize how much the people in my community are in need and how every little bit counts. The four hours I spend weekly with the two girls I mentor has made a huge difference in their lives as well as in mine. I’ve learned that taking time from my week to help others may not be “easy” but seeing the improvement in their reading, self-confidence and maturity makes it all worthwhile. There is nothing like knowing you just did something completely selfless that has made a huge impact on someone’s life.
What is your most memorable volunteer experience?
Participating in the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief program was completely amazing and unforgettable. My first trip down was only a few weeks after the disaster and my group and I had the intent of finding a family who needed manpower and help cleaning up their property. We found a man trying to clean his destroyed home alone because he had sent his family to stay with relatives in Texas. He was trying to clean up what was left of his home and move the debris to the street to get it picked up. We spent the next two days with this man, moving pieces of his home to the street to be swept away. When we returned home, my group and I set up a fund for the man and his family to help with any further costs to rebuild his life. Helping that man was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced and made me that much more appreciative of my life.
What are you most proud of contributing to your organization(s)?
The improvements I’ve seen in the girls’ I mentor at the McNair Academy. Their self-confidence and ability to answer a question and not think they are always wrong has made my time worthwhile. I know I have made a difference in their lives and I only hope they know they have done the same for me.
How have you personally benefitted from volunteering?
Volunteering has definitely made me more aware of my surroundings and how much people really do need help, inside and outside of your community. A small contribution of my services or time can be so influential and helpful that it really makes me wonder why more people don’t choose to give a little of their time.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?
There is nothing more rewarding than giving a small part of yourself and your time for the good of others. Volunteering makes you a better person and learning to give without the expectation of a reward is definitely the most rewarding part.
How do you think your family would describe you?
Independent, driven, and extraterrestrial
What are your plans after graduation?
I’d like to work as a legislative aide in D.C. for a year or two and then consider law school.
The Communities in Schools Program is a nonprofit, drop-out prevention program aimed at keeping kids in school. For more information about this program, visit the website at http://www.cischarleston.org/.