Our Voice

“How Volunteering Helped Me Find My Passion…”


As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Read on to discover how Reagan Elia learned a little about herself through volunteering.


What inspired you to start volunteering?

“I started volunteering at a very young age when I was in Girl Scouts. I would collect items for the homeless, donate books to libraries, and participate in road clean ups. At the time I realized how important volunteering is and I have continued my work with SAFE animal shelter, Ronald McDonald House, and Rethreaded.”

Why should more people start volunteering?

“Through volunteering you help so many people and animals and it is so humbling to volunteer. Some people don’t realize that there are things you can do in their town to help out. You don’t have to go to other countries to volunteer. You can do something as simple as collecting can tabs for Ronald McDonald House or old t-shirts for rethreaded.”

Where is your favorite place to volunteer?

“My favorite place to volunteer is SAFE Animal Shelter. I volunteer at the shelter, go to their events, and foster.”

What has volunteering taught you about yourself?

“Working at SAFE I realized how much I love animals. Since I started working with them I couldn’t imagine a life without fostering. It is so cool to get to take care of puppies and kittens who are to young to get adopted and dogs in the shelter who are having trouble getting adopted.”

What are you passionate about? How has volunteering fueled that passion?

“I’m very passionate about animals. I am in 4H so I constantly work with rabbits and horses. Volunteering at SAFE has allowed me to grow my knowledge on taking care of animals. I have learned so many things about taking care of dogs and cats as pets and how to take care of them when they are sick. This has really helped me take care of my own pets and it has helped me take care of my fosters.”

How can other teens get involved?

“There are so many ways teens can be involved. There are tons of other teens who volunteer with me at SAFE. Teens can also organize collections of supplies for various organizations. A great way to find places to volunteer is look at school or church. Teens will be more motivated to volunteer if they are passionate about the work they are doing. I’m passionate about animals so I knew volunteering at an animal shelter would be a great fit for me. If a teen feels motivated to keep the earth clean or they want to help kids with disabilities or illnesses there are organizations they can work with.”

How have pageants played a role in your love for volunteering?

“Pageants are an amazing way to help raise awareness for my platform: helping every animal find their forever home. In interviews and on stage I get to talk about the work I do with my platform and how others can help. Being a titleholder allows me to spread my platform and encourage others to volunteer. I have also had the opportunity to make appearances with SAFE and talk about my work with the shelter and how important it is to adopt from shelters.”

Do you think that having the incentive of getting a scholarship takes away from the act of volunteering?

“Some students volunteering for the scholarships will not be as dedicated to the work they are doing and they won’t put in as much effort as others who choose to volunteer. On the other hand, most teens wouldn’t choose to volunteer so providing an incentive would make them want to volunteer which greatly benefits the organizations. I personally don’t feel like it isn’t necessary to provide money as an incentive and I am rewarded with tons of love and happiness when I volunteer. I also feel like it is important for teens to get recognition when they volunteer. I am proud to announce that I will be reciting the President’s Volunteer Award next month for my volunteer work.”

Do you have a special story about a time you volunteered?

“One of the best moments from SAFE was when I got to bottle feed a two day old kitten. I also got the opportunity to help do a vet check on a stray who was brought in.  It is also a very special moment when any of my fosters or favorite animals get adopted.”

Describe a typical day volunteering at SAFE Animal Shelter.

“The first thing I do every morning is help feed all of the animals in the shelter. After all of the animals are fed, I clean the kennels and cat rooms. I also help with laundry, dishes,filling up water, and organizing papers in the office. Sometimes I get to give puppies baths or dress up small dogs. I also help the employees socialize dogs and take the dogs out to play and get exercise. When I foster dogs I feed them and take on walks. When I adopt out of my house, it is my job to find the dog their forever home so I will take them places that allow dogs such as parks and pet stores during the day as well as take pictures of them to send to the shelter and put on social media. I will also work on basic commands with them if needed. When I foster kittens I make sure they have food, water, a clean litter box, and lots of love. When I foster puppies in addition to making sure they have their basic needs covered, I also have to work with them on crate training, learning to walk on a leash, and basic commands.”

After that interview, I wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter! I hope this interview was helpful for any of you out there that are needed a little advice how find the right place to volunteer. I struggled in the beginning with finding the right place to volunteer at but similar to what Reagan mentioned in the interview, my advice would be to first figure out what you are passion about or what you like to do. Do you like animals? Do you like to make people happy? Do you like books? Once you figure out what you like, finding the right place to volunteer becomes a lot easier. I hope you enjoyed the interview.

Do you have any additional tips or fun memories regarding volunteering? Comment Below!

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