The Cougar Volunteer Spirit is Alive and Well in Charleston

This blog is a project by public relations students at the College of Charleston. Since its inception in 2004, the Cougar Volunteer Spirit has showcased dozens of students who give of their time, effort and hearts to helping those in need. They don't do it for recognition like this, but their stories need to be shared because of their admirable qualities of character and caring. "Be the change you want to see in the world," Mahatma Ghandi said. That's the Cougar Volunteer Spirit that roars through these pages. Click on the side photos to see the articles. See photos of the students who wrote the pieces at the end. Thanks!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


A Living Example for Go(o)d

by Kristen Milford

Emily Thompson (far bottom left, waving) and Young Life members at a camping retreat

Bright-eyed and goal-driven, Emily Thompson perpetuates the Volunteer Spirit--along with the Holy Spirit--to the youth population in the Charleston community as a part of Young Life.

This international, non-profit organization focuses on building relationships with middle school and high school students, and leaders help these adolescents first-hand through tough trials they may face during pubescence. By participating in weekend trips, activities, and events and by taking the initiative to listen, Emily Thompson extends further than a volunteer--she becomes a friend and a mentor for younger individuals seeking understanding and, in turn, bridges them with their faith through spiritual guidance.

Emily Thompson is new to the College of Charleston but intends on making the most of her first-year experience. She emphasizes her enjoyment of trying new things (her latest conquest being snowboarding in the white-capped mountains of Colorado) and loves applying these experiences in her Young Life community.

Whether Emily stays in the Charleston area or moves as far as Latin America, she looks forward to what the organization has in store for her and intends on remaining a living example of the faith that she advocates.


HOMETOWN: Spartanburg, S.C.

MAJOR: International Studies


Volunteer Activities: The volunteer work I do is for a nonprofit Christian organization called Young Life. Young Life is an International Outreach Ministry to high school and middle school students. The mission of Young Life is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. We do so by finding faithful and caring adults who are willing to enter the world of kids in order to build genuine relational bridges. We cross these bridges with the great news that God loves them and has a plan for their lives. These committed adults [staff and volunteers] are called Young Life leaders, and that is what I do--lead kids to the one who can change lives: Jesus Christ.

What do you enjoy most about community service? The thing I love most about Young Life is the relationships I get to build with the high school and middle school kids. It is a true blessing to see how what I say and do changes their lives drastically in every way possible.

What is your most memorable volunteer experience? The most memorable experience I have had from Young Life is when we had an ice cream-themed Young Life club. We had a bunch of games dealing with ice cream, like eating contests and creating different flavors, and at the end we had one huge 10 feet ice cream trough where we could only use our mouths to eat out of it; it ended up turning into the biggest ice cream fight I've ever seen. Just seeing the smiles on the kids' faces and hearing them talk about how cool it was for the next two weeks really showed me how much of an impact Young Life and God are in these kids lives.

What are you most proud of contributing to your organization? I think the thing I am most proud of for contributing to Young Life is probably my personal testimony and walk with God. As Christians, we are told to go out and evangelize in our own specific ways possible to whoever will listen, and this is my way of spreading the love of Christ in my heart to others. Knowing that these kids will no longer feel pain but that they will feel loved is a huge accomplishment.

How did you personally benefit from volunteering? Volunteering for Young Life benefits me in many ways. As a middle-schooler and high-schooler growing up in Spartanburg, I was part of it. I used to be in the exact place of the kids I'm helping with now. My life and relationship with God prospered and grew and changed due to this organization, and it is the exact reason why I'm a leader now. I felt like because it changed and helped me get through my awkward years of school, I could only help give back by doing that for someone else.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering? [If someone was considering volunteering for Young Life] I would have to tell them just to do it. It fills your life with some of the greatest memories you will hold forever. It is so much fun and it just the greatest blessing ever. How do you think your friends and family would describe you? My friends and family would describe me as very loving and caring and outgoing and passionate. What are your plans after graduation? After I graduate I actually plan to work for Young Life internationally. I hope to go to Spain and work for the organization there and do as much as possible to help in any way.

To learn more about Young Life, visit or contact Emily Thompson at for more information on how to get involved locally.

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