All throughout my childhood, I had a very chaotic home life. Although I knew my parent both loved me, their poor decisions at home made it very hard for it to feel that way. When I was 8 my parents had a brutal divorce, I vividly remember the arguing through my home and through my entire family. When I was 13, my dad spent time in jail due to an incident involving child abuse, after having it publicized throughout the community, kids at school spreading many rumors, and parents always staring.
Going through high school, I was involved in an organization called Key Club International. Key Club International focuses on serving others. With over 270,000 members in 37 nations, Key Club has completed over 12 million hours of service each year, donating millions of dollars to charities like UNICEF, March of Dimes, and Children’s Miracle Network. Key Club is the high school branch of the Kiwanis Family.
I served on the Indiana District Board during my junior year. I would travel in Indianapolis, Indiana about every two months, and have the opportunity to interact with other students my age from around the state. The Key Club district board compiled of high school students who, for the most part, never met each other. We were also faced with the task to run an international organization on the state level. In order to be successful, we had to become very close very fast.
I will never forget the day I met my best friend Rylee Briel. Rylee served for the division next time mine, meaning she lives about 30 minutes away from my house. Before our first board meeting, the only communication I had with these kids was through emails and phone calls. We had arranged for all of the Northwest Indiana kids to carpool together down to the board meeting.
This included our now best friends Nicky and Shyam. Since we were all so young, Shyam’s dad had to drive us to Indy. Early that morning, I was dropped off in an IHOP parking lot, so I could hang out with a group full of strangers. It is hard to pinpoint the point where we all became best friends after that awkward car ride, but it happened somehow.
If you would have told me on that day that these kids would be my closest group of friends, I would have laughed. However, three years later, these are the people who are the most in my call log.
Shyam goes to Indiana University, Nicky goes to Valparaiso University, and Rylee is still in high school. When we have a break from school, we still always manage to see each other.
I cannot explain how grateful I am that a high school club brought us together. Key Club gave me the opportunity to branch out of my shell, and become the person I am today. The organization provided me with the confidence I needed. I was able to meet my closest friends through this high school club. I am truly thankful I joined Key Club International.