Ordinary Teens Doing Extraordinary Things - Valerie Zaino
Name: Valerie Zaino
Parish: St. Matthew the Apostle Church
School: Bishop Watterson
Parish Involvement:
At my parish, I have been an altar server since sixth grade and a Eucharistic minister and a cantor since last year. I have been a member of my parish’s high school youth group for two years. I have helped lead the middle school youth group since eighth grade. Last year I was a counselor at the youth group summer camp, and I hope to be a counselor again this summer.
Describe Your Service Performed:
I have helped with the Summer Reading Club at the Gahanna branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library for the past three summers. I was a group leader for my parish’s Vacation Bible School for two summers. This year I also volunteered at the annual Ohio Right to Life meeting, where I helped set up, sign members in, and clean up afterwards. As previously mentioned, I have been a counselor and a leader at several youth group events in my parish, which has also given me the opportunity to perform various community service projects, such as spending time with inner city children. In June, I helped with Danny’s Day, a day of service in memory of Daniel Arnold. This also allowed me to spend time with inner city children and help the children have a fun day. Additionally, I have done service for my school through my involvement in Bishop Hartley’s Ambassador Club and House System and by leading the freshman and sophomore retreats this year.
Essay on the importance of service and giving back to the community:
Service is important because it is a fundamental aspect of living the Catholic Christian faith. God has entrusted to me certain abilities and talents so that I might use them to bring the love of Christ to others. As Scripture says, “to whom much is given, of him shall much be required” (Luke 12:48). God has given me much, so it is important that I use these gifts well by giving back to the community and by helping those who are not as fortunate as I have been. God does not give gifts so that they can be wasted or hidden. Rather, He intends for us to use our gifts so that we can “shine like lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15). It is awful to imagine what our world would be like if no one served each other. The absence of Christ’s love shared through service is the absence of the joy that comes from God alone. Furthermore, God Himself, in the person of Jesus, came down from heaven to provide for us a perfect example of how to live our lives. As the Gospels clearly illustrate, this flawless example consists solely of love and service. It is impossible to truly have faith in Christ while simultaneously refusing to act on that belief by following God’s commandment to love others as ourselves. In John 13:35, Christ declares, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Therefore, in order to be a true disciple of Christ, one must love others as Christ loved, which is only accomplished through service. In other words, we must be Christ to others. Through service, we can bring the joy of God’s love into the world.