Seven students from Perry High School, a rural district in Northeast Ohio, walked into Cincinnati’s Drop Inn Center in September 2009 to tour and volunteer at the city’s largest homeless shelter. Although the students were under the impression that they would be serving the homeless, they left the shelter feeling they benefited the most. During the tour, one guest at the shelter requested to speak with the students. He held a master’s degree, once worked as an engineer, and reminisced about the wonderful wife, children, and home he used to have. Then he explained how the recession of 2008 caused him to lose his job and home. Soon thereafter, his wife filed for divorce, he lost custody of his children, and he found himself sleeping at the shelter. He left the students with this thought, “Never judge a book by its cover, because one day you might be that book.”
Jessica, a student who volunteered that day, reflected saying: “I learned that you should never make assumptions about someone. You don’t know their situation, and someday you could be in their shoes. I’ve also learned that even the smallest bit of help can change the world, and if we all do a little bit we can accomplish great things.”
Society often criticizes teenagers as being apathetic, lazy, and irresponsible. However, students who have participated in the Perry Service Learning program demonstrate a desire to learn more about the unmet needs that exist in their community and work tirelessly to address those needs through their service and philanthropic efforts.
"I learned that you should never make assumptions about someone. You don't know their situation, and someday you could be in their shoes. I've also learned that even the smallest bit of help can change the world."
Since 2005, PSL students have served more than 91,000 hours with organizations working to meet unmet needs in the community and have raised over $20,000 for deserving non-profits.