The giving heart

By Katherine Brock |

Flagler College Senior, Jenna Cawley, has a heart that keeps on giving. While balancing school, Cawley is a volunteer for the United Services Organization, the Wounded Warrior Project and the American Red Cross.

“My heart is with our troops so I undoubtedly am bias to my experiences with the USO,” Cawley said. “Working at the Welcome Center at the USO is like a vacation for me. Its something I utterly enjoy.”

Cawley aspires to be a counselor for veterans one day. Volunteering prepares her with the experience that she needs to become the best mental health counselor that she can be. Her time spent at the USO and WWP provides her with interactions among the troops that she will be serving one day.

Although most people look at volunteering as an obligation, Cawley finds the experience to be an opportunity to give back to those who give so much of themselves.

“The best experience I have had with the USO was welcoming in a unit who had been deployed in Afghanistan for seven months. I didn’t even know anyone there, but being in the atmosphere of anticipation as the families counted down the minutes pulled at my heart strings,” Cawley said. “As soon as the plane pulled up I started crying. I was beyond happy for the families who were finally getting their men back home.”

Cawley puts many hours into volunteering. No obligation, no reservations, she puts her heart into all she does. Although she has become the friend that “pencils you in,” she is an inspiration to those around her.

“Jenna has the biggest heart. She is always more than willing to help someone in need,” Chelsea Olson, Cawley’s roommate, said. “Her passion to help others is inspirational. She never says no to a challenge and stops at nothing to make sure that everyone around her is taken care of.”

Life for Cawley has become a major balancing act. She goes weeks without seeing family and friends. At times, it becomes a miracle for her to sit and eat a meal. No matter what gets thrown her way, her volunteer work is never set aside.

“It is definitely hard balancing my life right now,” Cawley said. “If I’m not in class I am either at work, studying/writing a paper, working on Red Cross projects, working on my graduate school applications, or am in Jacksonville with the USO.”

Many college students complain about juggling life and balancing all the hardships. Although it is challenging to manage school, work and a social life, there are no excuses for Cawley to quit. Despite the times that become overwhelming for her, Cawley consistently strides towards serving others with an unconditional passion.

“As a Christian I rely heavily on the Word for encouragement,” Cawley said. “One verse I now use as a pick-me-up through difficult times is Psalms 46:10 which says ‘be still and know that I am God.’ The words ‘be still’ are my wusa words. They remind me to take a breath, relax, and remember God is in control. ”

No matter how tired Crawley gets, her heart just keeps on giving.

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