Volunteering is a way to give back to my community, to serve something greater than myself. It is important to make a difference in my community, to see people grow, inspire others to chase their dreams, or let them know they can overcome anything. As a child, I was taught the importance of serving, whether it was at church, in the military or in my own neighborhood. My family did not just talk about serving, they served, and they showed me how to do the same along the way.
words + photographs KESTA SMITH
>> What mattered was serving <<
Watching my grandmother teach Sunday school to 3- and 4-year-olds, listening to my grandfather tell of his experience serving in the Army in Germany, my parents helping our neighbors, All of these examples instilled in me the importance of serving; it did not matter how. What mattered was doing it.
As a teenager, I helped raise money for a teacher whose child had been diagnosed with cancer. Sometime later, I wrote letters to soldiers serving in Desert Storm. Writing the letters was important to me. Because of my age, I knew I was limited in what I could do, so letter writing seemed perfect. Letting our military know they had my support and were in my thoughts and prayers was important to me. Little did I know, by writing these letters, I would meet my future husband: One of the people I wrote to was his brother.
Serving something greater than myself has been an amazing gift, and helping my community fulfills a greater purpose.
>> Serving military veterans, first responders, and their families through Wellness for Warriors and Team RWB <<
God had put on my heart to find a way to serve our military community once again in the form of health and wellness. My own health journey led me to become a certified integrative nutrition health and running coach. Navigating the health and wellness field can be overwhelming; it certainly was for me. It was important to find an avenue to assist others on their wellness journeys. Through friends, I discovered Wellness for Warriors. Sharing information about health and wellness is something I am passionate about and now have the opportunity to share it with our military and first responders. I hope it will assist them in their lives. The mission of Wellness for Warriors is to support first responders, veterans, and families, transcending boundaries of any specific public safety or military organization. On a monthly or bi-monthly basis, I share about wellness in a class format.
Team Red, White and Blue (RWB) is another organization I serve. This organization is a national, non-profit organization whose purpose is to enrich the lives of veterans through physical and social activities. Physical activity is important to me, and I believe it helps people in many ways, not just physically. Movement also improves our mental and emotional well-being. Having the opportunity to do this in a group setting may also be beneficial. A group provides accountability and camaraderie. Team RWB has weekly, monthly and yearly events. Each week, I have the honor and privilege to lead a run/walk group. This group is for all ages and abilities. People can walk or run as many miles as they want and no one is left behind. We try to encourage as much as possible and meet individuals where they are right now.
Wellness for Warriors and Team RWB serve our community in great ways, and I am thankful to be involved. Serving something greater than myself has been an amazing gift, and helping my community fulfills a greater purpose. Find a way to get involved; you won’t regret it. KS