I was of voting age in the fall of 2002, but the first election I voted in was the 2004 presidential race between Kerry and Bush. I voted for Kerry. But one has to stop and think: given the state of things now, was it better that it happened that way? That is to say, that Bush won, and subsequently, Obama is now our president. I guess we'll never know.
I didn't really get into politics until after I graduated from college in the spring of 2007. As to why that is, I'm not really sure. I know I wasted most of my time during college, and I could have walked away from it with so much more, but you live and learn.
I can't speak for the past generations, but there is definitely a deeply rooted apathy with regards to civic participation amongst many of my peers, and it drives me nuts. However, I know that I surround myself with people who will actually listen to me, and they know that I do my homework. If I think something is important, they're going to take notice if I keep mentioning it over and over again. (See here, here, here, here, here, and here). So, I'm not just working for my own purpose, I'm working for everyone else. I think that's a valuable thing to offer.
My other contribution was my (O-) blood; I'm a universal donor, and anyone can receive my blood. Sadly, as a practicing homosexual, I am banned from donating blood ever again. Although, things may change in the future.