This summer, we will be featuring blogs written by Glammy Scholarship Award finalists. Today, from Aissatou Toure, Public Relations Officer of Saint Jean Baptiste High School, talks about the lasting impact of small acts of kindness.
Living in New York City I think we often forget the liberating feeling of doing good. The hustle and bustle of the big city often detracts from the joys of performing just a single act of kindness. GlamourGals was very important to me and my community because it allowed us to give in the big city. No matter what was going on outside of the community center as soon as we walked in through the doors it was as if all the stress of the day had passed. Being with the women allowed us to view the world in a new way that is crucial as we start to become adults. After I leave the community center I always feel lighter and just happy and that is just what the Saint Jean Baptiste High School community needs after a grueling day of school work.
I enjoy making other people laugh and spreading joy among my peers. I thought that the best way to have new members join our chapter was by them experiencing what it does to us. During the club fair, I let the girls read some of the journals that previous and current members wrote. I thought that the best way to understand how positively it affects each member and how fun it is, my schoolmates needed first-hand accounts. This turned out to be very successful and a number of students who signed up to join GlamourGals were overwhelmingly larger than any year beforehand.
My peers were frightened of the idea that they would be working with ladies who suffered from Alzheimer's and Dementia. They felt that it was too big of a responsibility for them to handle and they were not emotionally strong enough to continuously care for the ladies. As the Public Relations Officer, it was my duty to speak with them and find the hidden strength each of them had deep down and encourage them to try. When I first volunteered at GlamourGals I did not know the first thing about makeup or doing nails. I, however; did not let that discourage me from leading my peers. I converse with the ladies instead of offering them a makeover. While I am aware that most if not all of them will not remember us the next time we see them, I believe that the laughter and smiles we share are memories that will last forever, and it is my responsibility to pass that joy and feeling of accomplishment off to as many people as possible. I want to expose everyone to the inexplicably giddy feeling people get when they do something out of the kindness of their hearts. I believe that the smallest action can send a ripple of effects, and I want to be the action that makes the world a better place one person at a time.
I have always heard about different mental illnesses and I understood them, in theory, but; since I never met someone with a mental illness I still remained ignorant of what it truly was. I believed that once a person was diagnosed with a mental illness their life was over. Once I started GlamourGals I discovered a new perspective. I learned that mental illness does not have to define who you are. While the women I worked with were suffering from Alzheimer's and Dementia, they were still able to enjoy life and every experience. When I first met Julia; I was surprised. She did not fit the stereotypical role of someone struggling with mental illness. The more I talked to her the more I realized how human she was. Instead of making them weaker, as I had once believed mental illness did, their disabilities made them stronger. Ever since then I have begun looking at the world in a new light. I always wanted to change the world but I never knew how. I thought I was going to have to end world hunger or invent a cure for cancer, but Julia helped me realize that I can change the world one nursing home or one smile at a time.