Finding My Purpose
I’ve always loved animals, but I really started feeling connected with them when my dad got me a kitten named Marigold. He brought her home before he left for one of his deployments to make sure I had company when I missed him. Because he’s in the military, my family has moved a lot, and he gets deployed every couple of years. Moving can be hard because I’m shy, and it’s hard to make friends when almost everyone in class has been in school together since kindergarten. Marigold has been like a friend no matter where we move. She’s comforting when it feels like everything changes so often and so quickly, and she keeps my mom; my little brother, Hunter; and me company when my dad is gone for a while.
Seeing how special Marigold became to us, like she was another member of our family, gave my dad and me the idea to start volunteering at animal shelters. We want to help other animals find families to love them as much as we love Marigold, so no matter where we move, we find the shelter in the area and volunteer together on weekends.
My dad always says, “Whether you’re there for three days or three years, you have to offer something to your community.”
Helping animals find homes and get the walks or food they need has helped me get involved in every community I’ve lived in. When at first a new home doesn't feel exactly like mine, volunteering gives me something to hold on to and makes me feel like we belong. It has helped make all of our moves feel more meaningful, like I’ve been able to help care for more animals than if we just stayed in one place. Plus, I get to meet a ton of kittens, puppies, dogs, and cats, and I’ve seen so many find their forever homes!
Caring for animals has helped me find a constant purpose no matter how much changes. Working at animal shelters makes everywhere we move feel like it’s a part of me. And even when we have to move again, I feel like I make a difference, so my time there matters. I don’t know if I ever would’ve discovered my passion for animals if we didn’t move so much. So even when it feels really tough to have to pack everything up and move or when my dad has to leave for a while, I’m proud to be in a military family. And I’m proud of the community service mindset my dad has instilled in me.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself for being shy or not having a forever home of our own, I have been encouraged by my dad to find meaning wherever we are. Being part of a military family has helped me discover who I am and helped me figure out how to make every moment count because things could change really quickly. And I know that I’m giving back and following in my dad’s footsteps in offering something to my community, which makes him proud. I’m proud to be his daughter, and I like knowing that he’s proud to have me as a daughter.