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Why is it important to help those who are less fortunate?

July 4, 2020 by Raywon Kim

Pursuing dreams, or even having dreams, should be non-negotiable. Sadly, in the world we live in, not everyone is given the opportunity to pursue or even have dreams. However, these pessimistic thoughts by no means, should lessen our drive to help those unfortunate. To put things into perspective for myself, I look at where I am today as a meter to gauge how ready I am to help others. I see how privileged I am to have what I have, love what I love, and do what I do. As a human, I often feel pride in my achievements, and deem all that I’ve done “thanks to me”. Although these thoughts often pop up in my head, I know that I can continue fighting against my flaws. I can see two reasons why helping those less fortunate is extremely important to me. The first reason comes from my firm belief that since I have been given this life of privilege and opportunity, it is my duty to do whatever I can, no matter how large or small, to serve whoever needs my help. The second reason why I want to help the less fortunate is to fulfill the dream of my parents that has become my own…

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Why is mental health so important?

June 21, 2020 by Saira Sarfaraz

Mental health has continued to be an issue throughout society. This is because there is a large stigma around mental health. Many people think having depression or anxiety is something to be ashamed of. Thus, they fail to speak up and seek professional help. One cause for this is that society has given mental health an irrelevant image. Most people believe that mental issues are not real. They constantly refer to the phrase, “It’s all in your head”. This means that they think that people are giving themselves depression and anxiety on purpose and it is not a fundamental issue. They believe people with mental health are overreacting. In addition, Suicide has become a serious threat to teenagers. Sadly, more and more teens are developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. These issues have made them more vulnerable to committing suicide. According to an October 2019 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the suicide rate in kids, teens, and young adults increased by 56 percent from 2007 to 2017. This alarming increase makes me question our social ideals and current parenting skills as possible causes. As a teenager myself, I have seen friends with possible depression and anxiety struggling with suicidal thoughts. These first-hand experiences motivated me to spread awareness about mental health and research the possible cures or preventions…

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Why is volunteering important to you?

June 21, 2020 by Chaitanya Arora

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”- Winston Churchill. This is a quote that I live by and in my opinion, is the definition of why it is essential to help others who are less fortunate. One experience in particular that opened my eyes to why it is extremely necessary to help the less fortunate, occurred when I was in middle school. I volunteered with a homeless shelter in Boston for a year and a half, and had done numerous things to help, including running canned food drives and making and selling bracelets to fundraise. But, the most meaningful experience to me was when I volunteered at the shelter’s food pantry, packaging and handing out bags of food to the less fortunate in the community. I watched people line up down the block for hours, even in the pouring rain, just to get two bags of food for their families. This volunteer opportunity was truly one that I will never forget because it made me realize how important it is to help others who have less than I do. While volunteering and seeing all of the people in need, I couldn’t help but think how much the less fortunate struggle for opportunities and aren’t given the same chances that average people are. We live in a world where people are judged and limited by their circumstances, and I want to change this…

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What is a shocking realization that you had?

June 20, 2020 by Derek Martinez

A lot of times we may not realize that we are more fortunate and have more opportunities than others. I know that especially for students in high school, with such an emphasis on attending college, it is easy to dream and envy others who have experiences and opportunities that seem so grand. However, we must also think about where we have gotten and just how we have gotten here. Whether it be going to math team practices, or playing basketball for your school, we have more than we actually think we have. I come from a low income city with an underfunded school system, and I have honestly taken my resources for granted. Whenever I’m leaving school after a practice, a study session, or a competition, I notice that my school is almost always empty. Whenever I visit another high school, there are always a majority of students staying after school to attend sports, clubs, and events. When I started thinking about applying for Interns 4-Good and started to think about my role in helping others, the realization came to me that the students at my school were missing out on an experience that they deserve because of something that they cannot control. My peers aren’t able to stay at school to play baseball, get tutored, or volunteer just because of one reason that I have never even thought of: transportation

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How have you volunteered in your community?

June 20, 2020 by Felicia Mo

Now, I know it may seem out of place here, in a tutoring organization that focuses primarily on young elementary school students, to talk about my experience volunteering at my city’s Senior Center. Polar opposites on the age spectrum right? But I want you to know that it is not any different—it is not any more or less important, any more or less inspiring. It is a service to my community’s wisest population just as Interns 4-Good is a service to our community’s future generation. In my time at the Senior Center, I’ve learned lessons, heard insights, and experienced originality and imagination that cannot be found anywhere else. We always say “respect your elders”, “seniority is priority”, “a wise man once said”, and all that is one hundred percent true. Maybe for you, though, that is in theory. For me, after months of teaching seniors how to use the newest iPhone, guiding them step by step through computer applications, listening to the best stories of their lives, celebrating their accomplishments when they can repeat smoothly what I’ve taught them—for me, that is reality. I know it to be true. I know their wisdom makes me think twice, and their joy makes me want to get up and throw them a party

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What are the benefits of volunteering?

June 14, 2020 by Luca Mitran

Helping others less fortunate, or in other words, volunteering, is an activity that is often mentioned in the modern day, whether it be because of increasing disparities between socio-economic classes, high schoolers believing it will aid their chances at college admissions, or otherwise. Personally, I see the intrinsic value in such activity lying in two main facets: community and perspective. First off, I believe that as an individual, one has a moral obligation to help out those in need in their community. This may encompass simply donating clothes or food, going to local volunteer shifts, or even putting forth a hand towards a much larger community by traveling and engaging in more direct volunteer work. This allows individuals to bring themselves closer with sectors of their community that they may not have been exposed to otherwise, as well as support the fight to minimize any disparities, whether it be financial or social, in various parts of the world. Next, I maintain that for those who typically engage in volunteer work (those more fortunate/wealthy), it helps to put things into perspective for them. While many, including myself, are born into a position of inherent privilege, without much worry over basic financial or personal needs, it is quite easy to gloss over those on the opposite end of the spectrum, who face hardships and disadvantages each day…

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How have you changed?

June 14, 2020 by Risha Bongu

To be very honest, I have never really volunteered before. I have participated in fundraisers and concession stands, but it was for the badminton or bowling team, which I was in. It does not count as volunteering when you are a part of the team. I have always wanted to volunteer, but I ended up backing out because I was shy. I didn’t want to talk and communicate with others because I thought they would talk about me. I always stayed in my comfort zone, until now. It was about a month ago that I thought to myself that I had to change. I have to get out of my comfort zone and try new things. I had to challenge myself and prove to myself that I was more than what I am now. That is when I applied to teensgive.org. I also applied to other volunteer programs to help me get out my comfort zone. Now I am also thinking of volunteering at the local library and the church when it is safe to do so. I have always wanted to help people and now it is time that I actually do so. I think it’s important to volunteer because you are helping others feel happy. It’s a win-win situation because you are happy while making other people happy. It is a great feeling to have when you make some else happy. A volunteer that inspired me are my parents…

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When did you try something new?

June 6, 2020 by Mehri Sadri

Although I have experienced many volunteering opportunities throughout my life, my volunteer work has mainly been community and library-based, so I was apprehensive to apply to be a junior counselor at a local summer camp. I didn’t know if it was for me, and wasn’t familiar with the camp’s atmosphere. Nonetheless, I went for a group interview and was accepted into the program. Although my experience was only for a month, it was absolutely amazing to meet other caring counselors and campers, and although I was able to teach them skills and activities in a fun, comprehensive way, they taught me valuable lessons about leadership and friendship as well: thus creating a positive experience for both of us. Kids are the future, both myself and them, so if we can help and improve each other, the future only becomes brighter. The leadership aspect of this journey was just as valuable to me, as the junior and senior counselors were very vocal about our preferences and needs, always trying to improve our counseling. We would always meet at the end of the day to discuss these tenets, which gave me this sense of leadership as I gave suggestions and took others’ ideas…

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How are you changing the statistics?

June 6, 2020 by Elinor West

July 4th has always been a special day for the family. It was a time for my family to reflect on the principles of America: equality and liberty for all— the same principles that inspired them to immigrate to the United States following the establishment of the Khmer Rouge, a Communist regime. Despite this proud feeling of liberty, I felt myself stuck in a liminal space— stuck in the (half-worlds or mudbloods) of race: half first-generation, half first generation to college, half Cambodia, and half White. This sense of one hundred percent American was lost in the definition of a mixed child, and I dismissed that feeling of displacement for years until my junior and senior year of high school. My years at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes’ have truly been a blessing. As a private school, it is not the cheapest, and I have had parents hardworking and determined enough to spend weekends and long nights doing overtime. But when I walked down the main hallway, I never knew another child of two identities, whom I could relate to— who felt the same tug in opposite directions. A Catholic father and a Buddhist mother seemed to mix like oil and water at St. Stephen’s. So, as I stained the crisp white linen of high school with a light brown stain, I began to feel more and more out of place. To this day, I have yet to find a place— other than my home— in which I truly feel accepted.

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What important cause do you champion?

May 30, 2020 by Makenna Dovel

Humans. We are far from perfect. We mess up, we say the wrong thing, and we lose ourselves. When we are filled with an anxious, lonesome mindset, we can feel like we are losing the stability in our life. But there is always one thing that will be there for us: Nature. For me, going on a nice walk through my neighborhood, seeing a pretty sunset, or smelling the salty air of the sea can cheer me instantaneously. It makes me realize the importance of life. But what if the harm we do to our planet becomes too detrimental? Will our society fall into a continuous depression if the only smell from the ocean is old trash, only sunset in the world is from burning mountains, only way to go outside is if hidden behind a mask? All these questions go through my mind everyday. I never want this to happen. Of course, I can’t just say that and do nothing. To accomplish my longing for an everlasting beautiful planet, I hope to communicate the importance through awareness, possibly starting my very own movement to stand up against global warming. I hope to create non-profit organizations helping give back to the homeless with sustainable products and negotiating with big companies to change their packaging to be more eco-friendly…

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What was a profound realization that you had?

May 30, 2020 by Hope Wright

All my life, I’ve lived in a bubble. No, this isn’t the 1976 film The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, and unfortunately I’m not John Travolta. What I mean is, I’m surrounded by constant security and comfort. I’m blessed with an environment that contains everything I’ll ever need; running water, electricity, food, and a stellar education. And far too often, I take these privileges for granted. Far too often, and despite the multitude of resources that allow me unhindered access to knowledge and information, the countless chances to gain awareness of what goes on outside my metaphorical bubble, I don’t take the opportunities that present themselves. More likely than not, I have consciously allowed a chance to change someone’s life for the better slip through my fingers simply for the sake of convenience. I have permitted myself to sacrifice another’s well being because it was too hard. Too untimely. Too demanding. But what I’ve come to realize is helping others isn’t supposed to be easy. It requires both personal and external sacrifices, hard work, determination, and realizing that even the changes we perceive as minute can have a drastic effect on the lives of people used to the bare minimum. Some people dream and long for the type of life far too many take for granted…

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What does volunteering mean to you?

May 28, 2020 by Caroline Lidz

Before gaining some “field experience” with volunteering, I had a very narrow understanding of what volunteering really is. I associated the idea of volunteering with crowds wearing the same ugly neon t-shirt while completing the same mundane task. Little did I know that volunteering could encompass designing the t-shirts, organizing the events, and designing the visual identity for a cause. Volunteering, as I have learned, demands organization, creativity, and invention. I grew up as an art kid with my face behind a camera, and my hands shackled to Adobe photoshop. By creating branding for the New Jersey Student Climate Advocates, I learned how to use my skills to amplify the voices of nonprofits. While the work demanded a level of professionalism, I was able to catalyze my growth as a creative professional while giving back to a cause that I am tremendously passionate about. Put simply, volunteering is equal parts giving back and self-exploration- two attributes that continue to drive my passion for activism…

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How are you helping to make the world a better place?

May 27, 2020 by Alize Gonzalez

I volunteered in a village school in Turkey. They did not know English very well because there were not enough resources for books and good teachers. I taught them the foods that we eat for breakfast and taught them how to make sentences like “I like to eat…for breakfast.” The subjects I taught were mostly simple English. This experience was very important for me because I saw the other side of the world. There are people who can reach most of the stuff they want. Maybe it is not in an easy way but, still if they try more they can reach them. However, for the kids in this school it is not very possible to reach what they want even though they try hard. It made me realize more that the world does not only contain where we live it contains both positives and negatives. In order to make them equal we should try to help both parts. Because when we can have what we want the other part cannot have it and not sharing would be selfish. To help the less fortunate will bring all of us together and help them live a happier life. Even doing something little can make wonders in someone’s life…

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How have you volunteered? Why is it important?

May 24, 2020 by Lilah Lindermann

Every Thanksgiving since I was four years old, my family and I get up early in the chilly morning and put on our snug winter coats. Later that day, we go to my Grandma’s warm and cheery home and eat turkey and mashed potatoes and apple pie. But in the morning, we drive to a church where Volunteers for Long Island making preparations for the day. For the next few hours, we sort clothing donations and apportion food into individual foil trays for people who are homeless, while younger kids make cards using markers and brightly colored paper. I remember how proud I was when I was deemed old enough to help the adults with the food. Along with the clothing and food, we distribute hope. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to help with other projects and collection drives. Whether playing my flute for the seniors at an assisted living facility, organizing a women’s self-defense workshop, or collecting food for victims of Hurricane Sandy, I have noticed that volunteer efforts always bring hope with them. When I got older, I began to volunteer at a local children’s science museum. I’ve led multiple workshops there, teaching young kids about hydraulics, coding, and robotics…

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How have you volunteered? Why is it important?

May 24, 2020 by Gia Vellegas

Volunteering is one of the most beautiful things in this world. It fosters human connections, something that this world needs more of. As people, it is our duty to be there for one another by helping and encouraging others to grow stronger. I’ve been able to paint the nails of residents at nursing homes, teach a theater workshop to children whose school does not have a theater program and I’ve written letters to a local nursing home to let them know that they are not alone and that we will get through this pandemic together. Through opportunities like these I’ve been able to realize that volunteering acts like a boomerang of happiness and love. Smiles have appeared on the faces of the people I have been lucky to serve, but most importantly these amazing people taught me new approaches to life and made me feel a strong love that is hard to describe through words. I’m so grateful for being able to develop human connections that I would have never been able to have without volunteering. I view volunteering as the missing piece of a better world. A world where people aid other people, where happiness is constantly lingering in the air and where help will not be hard to find…

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What does volunteering mean to you?

May 23, 2020 by Jaylen Adams

I’ve volunteered in numerous ways. For instance, I am an advisor on the Youth Council of Charlotte. I represent Olympic High School, acting as a voice to Charlotte’s governing body, as well as the school board. Furthermore, I am an ambassador in training for the Young Black Leaders Association. As a member, I have donated toys to underprivileged students, created care packages for Title One schools, and acted as a model to advertise black beauty. At my own school, I’m a member of many different clubs — Model UN, Student Council, Key Club, Junior Leadership Society, Black Student Union, and so on. I’ve organized Bowling for Babies events for my aunt’s sorority, raising money for disabled newborns. I’ve went to a mission trip in Jamaica to bring supplies to underfunded retirement homes. Volunteering is so important to me. Everywhere I look, I see something I want to change. It can be the education system, the mass incarceration epidemic in America, poverty. There is an intricate web of corruption in our country, and there’s only so much I can do as a high school student. I might not be changing the country right now, but I can be changing one person’s life one toy or smile at a time…

Our Mission

Interns 4-Good is a 501(c)-3 nonprofit organization connecting high school students with remote, skill-based internship opportunities at nonprofit organizations, allowing them to build their resumes while giving back to worthy causes.

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Why is it important to help those who are less fortunate?

July 4, 2020 by Raywon Kim

Pursuing dreams, or even having dreams, should be non-negotiable. Sadly, in the world we live in, not everyone is given the opportunity to pursue or even have dreams. However, these pessimistic thoughts by no means, should lessen our drive to help those unfortunate. To put things into perspective for myself, I look at where I am today as a meter to gauge how ready I am to help others. I see how privileged I am to have what I have, love what I love, and do what I do. As a human, I often feel pride in my achievements, and deem all that I’ve done “thanks to me”. Although these thoughts often pop up in my head, I know that I can continue fighting against my flaws. I can see two reasons why helping those less fortunate is extremely important to me. The first reason comes from my firm belief that since I have been given this life of privilege and opportunity, it is my duty to do whatever I can, no matter how large or small, to serve whoever needs my help. The second reason why I want to help the less fortunate is to fulfill the dream of my parents that has become my own. When I was 12 years old, my parents told me that their most important goal in life was to build a school in Africa, in order to give as many children an opportunity to pursue their dreams through receiving a quality education. When I heard this story I was amazed and proud of my parents. I immediately assumed that my parents’ dream was simple. However, what they said after telling me their dream is what fuels my mission today. They said, “Raywon, building the school itself is something that money alone can cover. Creating a school that provides genuine hope and love to kids your age is our dream, but that’s something that money alone cannot cover. My dream is that you and your two sisters grow up to be thankful people, and can use what you have now as a way to change these kids’ lives”. My parents’ words fueled me into applying for Interns 4-Good. I can not build a school right now, and I may not ever be able to, but I hope to help anyone I can, in these difficult times, no matter what. This path will not be easy, but I know that I will not be alone. I know there are a vast number of young kids like me who also hope to slowly change our world. Reflecting upon all of this leaves in my head an extremely well-known quote by Dr. Seuss: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

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Why is mental health so important?

June 21, 2020 by Saira Sarfaraz

Mental health has continued to be an issue throughout society. This is because there is a large stigma around mental health. Many people think having depression or anxiety is something to be ashamed of. Thus, they fail to speak up and seek professional help. One cause for this is that society has given mental health an irrelevant image. Most people believe that mental issues are not real. They constantly refer to the phrase, “It’s all in your head”. This means that they think that people are giving themselves depression and anxiety on purpose and it is not a fundamental issue. They believe people with mental health are overreacting. In addition, Suicide has become a serious threat to teenagers. Sadly, more and more teens are developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. These issues have made them more vulnerable to committing suicide. According to an October 2019 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the suicide rate in kids, teens, and young adults increased by 56 percent from 2007 to 2017. This alarming increase makes me question our social ideals and current parenting skills as possible causes. As a teenager myself, I have seen friends with possible depression and anxiety struggling with suicidal thoughts. These first-hand experiences motivated me to spread awareness about mental health and research the possible cures or preventions. I feel a strong desire to help teens struggling with mental health issues. It is important to spread awareness of suicide and its possible causes. To add on, suicidal thoughts are not health issues that can be seen physically such as physical health problems. Thus, it is more difficult to determine if someone is struggling with suicide, which makes it even more difficult to prevent. As a result, awareness on this issue is crucial so possible symptoms of suicide and mental health issues can be detected. In addition, many psychologists are finding it difficult to pinpoint an exact cause of the increase in suicide rates in teens. Thus, not many are sure why teens are committing suicide. In my opinion, adults will struggle to understand the cause of suicide rates increasing because they are simply not teenagers. Their childhood was completely different then what teenagers face now. Consequently, it will be difficult for them to put themselves in our shoes and try to understand our situation. However, the more they try to understand what Teenagers are going through, the more capable they are of helping.  Lastly, physical health and mental health should be treated the same way because they are both crucial to a person’s health. Bad mental health can be the cause of many physical problems. Thus, if you treat mental health first you may save yourself from the threat of physical issues. Just because you can’t physically see mental health doesn’t mean it’s not real. In conclusion, there should be no health without mental health.

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Why is volunteering important to you?

June 21, 2020 by Chaitanya Arora

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”- Winston Churchill. This is a quote that I live by and in my opinion, is the definition of why it is essential to help others who are less fortunate. One experience in particular that opened my eyes to why it is extremely necessary to help the less fortunate, occurred when I was in middle school. I volunteered with a homeless shelter in Boston for a year and a half, and had done numerous things to help, including running canned food drives and making and selling bracelets to fundraise. But, the most meaningful experience to me was when I volunteered at the shelter’s food pantry, packaging and handing out bags of food to the less fortunate in the community. I watched people line up down the block for hours, even in the pouring rain, just to get two bags of food for their families. This volunteer opportunity was truly one that I will never forget because it made me realize how important it is to help others who have less than I do. While volunteering and seeing all of the people in need, I couldn’t help but think how much the less fortunate struggle for opportunities and aren’t given the same chances that average people are. We live in a world where people are judged and limited by their circumstances, and I want to change this. I think volunteering is essential because by doing so, we can help those in need be the best that they can be, so that they are not limited by what they have or the situations that they have been in. By building connections between the fortunate and the less fortunate, society can create a sense of equality in the world. And, although we may never be equal in what we have been through or how much money we have, that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that when our generation is older, I want to be able to look back on my life and say that I, as well as others, did our best to make an impact on those who were less fortunate. I feel it is important to remember that any act of kindness, no matter how small, will make a difference to someone in need. Volunteering has the power to change lives by giving others what a lot of us already have, and I hope that by continuing to set an example, I can inspire everyone else to give back too.

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What was a shocking realization that you had?

June 20, 2020 by Derek Martinez

IA lot of times we may not realize that we are more fortunate and have more opportunities than others. I know that especially for students in high school, with such an emphasis on attending college, it is easy to dream and envy others who have experiences and opportunities that seem so grand. However, we must also think about where we have gotten and just how we have gotten here. Whether it be going to math team practices, or playing basketball for your school, we have more than we actually think we have. I come from a low income city with an underfunded school system, and I have honestly taken my resources for granted. Whenever I’m leaving school after a practice, a study session, or a competition, I notice that my school is almost always empty. Whenever I visit another high school, there are always a majority of students staying after school to attend sports, clubs, and events. When I started thinking about applying for Interns 4-Good and started to think about my role in helping others, the realization came to me that the students at my school were missing out on an experience that they deserve because of something that they cannot control. My peers aren’t able to stay at school to play baseball, get tutored, or volunteer just because of one reason that I have never even thought of. Transportation. These are students whose families only have one car. One car for their parents to get to work, one car to get to school, one car to support a whole family. Even if they do stay, they have to wait for hours, just to get home. And here I am, being able to get everywhere I need to be, because of the flexibility of my transportation. So, why is it important to help others that are less fortunate than us? Every student has a right for an education. Every student has a right to attend school, to learn how to solve for X, to learn about photosynthesis, to find what they love. But that does not mean that every student gets the resources they need. As someone who has been able to have multiple career and academic opportunities, I feel that it is my job to use my privilege and experiences to ensure that other students and children are able to receive the resources that they need. Not every student has been able to have the opportunities they want, but it is those who are more fortunate who are able to give to those who need it.

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How have you volunteered in your community?

June 20, 2020 by Felicia Mo

Now, I know it may seem out of place here, in a tutoring organization that focuses primarily on young elementary school students, to talk about my experience volunteering at my city’s Senior Center. Polar opposites on the age spectrum right? But I want you to know that it is not any different—it is not any more or less important, any more or less inspiring. It is a service to my community’s wisest population just as Interns 4-Good is a service to our community’s future generation. In my time at the Senior Center, I’ve learned lessons, heard insights, and experienced originality and imagination that cannot be found anywhere else. We always say “respect your elders”, “seniority is priority”, “a wise man once said”, and all that is one hundred percent true. Maybe for you, though, that is in theory. For me, after months of teaching seniors how to use the newest iPhone, guiding them step by step through computer applications, listening to the best stories of their lives, celebrating their accomplishments when they can repeat smoothly what I’ve taught them—for me, that is reality. I know it to be true. I know their wisdom makes me think twice, and their joy makes me want to get up and throw them a party. That’s what serving the people around you brings; so step out of your age zone and get to work because, by golly, I promise you you’ll reap far more than what you sow.

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What are the benefits of volunteering?

June 14, 2020 by Luca Mitran

Helping others less fortunate, or in other words, volunteering, is an activity that is often mentioned in the modern day, whether it be because of increasing disparities between socio-economic classes, high schoolers believing it will aid their chances at college admissions, or otherwise. Personally, I see the intrinsic value in such activity lying in two main facets: community and perspective. First off, I believe that as an individual, one has a moral obligation to help out those in need in their community. This may encompass simply donating clothes or food, going to local volunteer shifts, or even putting forth a hand towards a much larger community by traveling and engaging in more direct volunteer work. This allows individuals to bring themselves closer with sectors of their community that they may not have been exposed to otherwise, as well as support the fight to minimize any disparities, whether it be financial or social, in various parts of the world. Next, I maintain that for those who typically engage in volunteer work (those more fortunate/wealthy), it helps to put things into perspective for them. While many, including myself, are born into a position of inherent privilege, without much worry over basic financial or personal needs, it is quite easy to gloss over those on the opposite end of the spectrum, who face hardships and disadvantages each day. Volunteer work helps to bridge these two different groups together in a goodhearted manner, and expose the hardships many face to those who may never encounter them. Overall, volunteer work possesses the obvious merit of simply helping those in need with whatever adverse situation they may find themselves in, but I believe that there is room for personal growth present as well.

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How have you changed?

June 14, 2020 by Risha Bongu

To be very honest, I have never really volunteered before. I have participated in fundraisers and concession stands, but it was for the badminton or bowling team, which I was in. It does not count as volunteering when you are a part of the team. I have always wanted to volunteer, but I ended up backing out because I was shy. I didn’t want to talk and communicate with others because I thought they would talk about me. I always stayed in my comfort zone, until now. It was about a month ago that I thought to myself that I had to change. I have to get out of my comfort zone and try new things. I had to challenge myself and prove to myself that I was more than what I am now. That is when I applied to teensgive.org. I also applied to other volunteer programs to help me get out my comfort zone. Now I am also thinking of volunteering at the local library and the church when it is safe to do so. I have always wanted to help people and now it is time that I actually do so. I think it’s important to volunteer because you are helping others feel happy. It’s a win-win situation because you are happy while making other people happy. It is a great feeling to have when you make some else happy. A volunteer that inspired me are my parents. They have always been my inspiration for a lot of things. They have always helped people in their journey. My dad loves to help people and make sure that everyone is happy. A lot of people have come to my dad for help and he has always agreed to help them no matter what it takes. He has helped many people with jobs and financial matters. Recently my parents have donated food to the people in India. During the pandemic, my parents thought it would be a good idea to donate fresh vegetables, rice, and other foods to the people that cannot afford food. This is part of the reason why I was inspired to help people and make them happy. My parents are my biggest inspiration and I will continue to volunteer in different organizations to make people happy in this world. I believe that it’s important to help others less fortunate because you are giving something that they can’t have. You are making them happy and creating a strong community. There is nothing wrong to help others and it makes me feel very happy when I do. Helping people creates a strong bond and connects us with the people in need. I feel that it is a blessing to help people because I have learned from my parents that if you help people, they will always help you back. I have also learned that you don’t need money to be happy in life. Money can buy us a lot of things, but not happiness. Helping people has changed me as a person. It made me much happier and healthier in life. I strongly believe that volunteering will make the society happy. We have got to help each other through the problems in the world. My plan to make the world a better place is to have everyone in the world to be equal. I want everyone to get education, food, shelter, and to be happy. I know it’s not as simple as it sounds, but I truly want everyone to be happy. I want everyone that does not have access to resources to actually be able to afford it. I want to create an organization that runs online and in reality to help the people in need. I want the organization to be a place where people can get free education, food, and shelter. I am obviously not old enough to put my idea out in the world, but I will definitely continue to help people and make a difference in this world.

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When did you try something new?

June 6, 2020 by Mehri Sadri

Although I have experienced many volunteering opportunities throughout my life, my volunteer work has mainly been community and library-based, so I was apprehensive to apply to be a junior counselor at a local summer camp. I didn’t know if it was for me, and wasn’t familiar with the camp’s atmosphere. Nonetheless, I went for a group interview and was accepted into the program. Although my experience was only for a month, it was absolutely amazing to meet other caring counselors and campers, and although I was able to teach them skills and activities in a fun, comprehensive way, they taught me valuable lessons about leadership and friendship as well: thus creating a positive experience for both of us. Kids are the future, both myself and them, so if we can help and improve each other, the future only becomes brighter. The leadership aspect of this journey was just as valuable to me, as the junior and senior counselors were very vocal about our preferences and needs, always trying to improve our counseling. We would always meet at the end of the day to discuss these tenets, which gave me this sense of leadership as I gave suggestions and took others’ ideas. Since then, I have developed a passion for becoming a leader in my community, and have acquired many different leadership positions in community councils, school clubs, and even have had the opportunity to participate in a rotary club. I believe that it is important to take this opportunity to improve one’s confidence, ideals, and involvement in local events.

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How are changing the statistics?

June 6, 2020 by Elinor West

July 4th has always been a special day for the family. It was a time for my family to reflect on the principles of America: equality and liberty for all— the same principles that inspired them to immigrate to the United States following the establishment of the Khmer Rouge, a Communist regime. Despite this proud feeling of liberty, I felt myself stuck in a liminal space— stuck in the (half-worlds or mudbloods) of race: half first-generation, half first generation to college, half Cambodia, and half White. This sense of one hundred percent American was lost in the definition of a mixed child, and I dismissed that feeling of displacement for years until my junior and senior year of high school. My years at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes’ have truly been a blessing. As a private school, it is not the cheapest, and I have had parents hardworking and determined enough to spend weekends and long nights doing overtime. But when I walked down the main hallway, I never knew another child of two identities, whom I could relate to— who felt the same tug in opposite directions. A Catholic father and a Buddhist mother seemed to mix like oil and water at St. Stephen’s. So, as I stained the crisp white linen of high school with a light brown stain, I began to feel more and more out of place. To this day, I have yet to find a place— other than my home— in which I truly feel accepted. Neither Catholic mass on Easter and Christmas, nor the cultural and New Year’s festivals at the Khmer BuddhistTemple comforted me, as I felt too white for the Asians and too Asian for the whites. Nevertheless, my father has taught me one of the most significant phrases I have ever heard: “you defy the statistics.” Only twenty percent of U.S. born Cambodians have attained a four-year college degree, and only 4% obtain a postgrad degree. Knowing these statistics, I am obligated to change them. Don’t get me wrong, I will change that percentage by maybe .0000001 percent, but it is a change nonetheless. Cambodia remains to be one of the poorest third-world countries, with the majority of the population working in farmlands. So when I say, it lacks the medical technology to properly support its people, I mean that it can barely support its own people. The 2019 coronavirus has ravaged Cambodia in a way I have yet to find words to describe. I have always had an interest in medicine, and I believe the coronavirus outbreak gives me more reason to assist those who cannot otherwise help themselves, specifically those affected by poverty. While this is a dream, I’ve spent my time volunteering at hospitals and churches, assisting RNs and physicians and giving free clothes to those who cannot otherwise afford it. Gaining experience in any type of volunteering allows me to take a few more steps towards my goals of Doctors Without Borders and the Peace Corps. Being an underrepresented minority not only makes it important to change the statistics but doing good at the same time.

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What important cause do you champion?

May 30, 2020 by Makenna Dovel

Humans. We are far from perfect. We mess up, we say the wrong thing, and we lose ourselves. When we are filled with an anxious, lonesome mindset, we can feel like we are losing the stability in our life. But there is always one thing that will be there for us: Nature. For me, going on a nice walk through my neighborhood, seeing a pretty sunset, or smelling the salty air of the sea can cheer me instantaneously. It makes me realize the importance of life. But what if the harm we do to our planet becomes too detrimental? Will our society fall into a continuous depression if the only smell from the ocean is old trash, only sunset in the world is from burning mountains, only way to go outside is if hidden behind a mask? All these questions go through my mind everyday. I never want this to happen. Of course, I can’t just say that and do nothing. To accomplish my longing for an everlasting beautiful planet, I hope to communicate the importance through awareness, possibly starting my very own movement to stand up against global warming. I hope to create non-profit organizations helping give back to the homeless with sustainable products and negotiating with big companies to change their packaging to be more eco-friendly. For example, places like zero-waste restaurants, hotels, and clothing lines should be embraced and grow to become our future. I currently incorporate more sustainability into my life. I started to compost, grow vegetables and fruits in my backyard, and buy sustainable or second-hand clothing. The more I grow, I hope to strive closer to zero-waste. The best awareness to spread though, is that anything can help! Because we should take care of the environment like it takes care of us!

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What is a profound realization that you had?

May 30, 2020 by Hope Wright

All my life, I’ve lived in a bubble. No, this isn’t the 1976 film The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, and unfortunately I’m not John Travolta. What I mean is, I’m surrounded by constant security and comfort. I’m blessed with an environment that contains everything I’ll ever need; running water, electricity, food, and a stellar education. And far too often, I take these privileges for granted. Far too often, and despite the multitude of resources that allow me unhindered access to knowledge and information, the countless chances to gain awareness of what goes on outside my metaphorical bubble, I don’t take the opportunities that present themselves. More likely than not, I have consciously allowed a chance to change someone’s life for the better slip through my fingers simply for the sake of convenience. I have permitted myself to sacrifice another’s well being because it was too hard. Too untimely. Too demanding. But what I’ve come to realize is helping others isn’t supposed to be easy. It requires both personal and external sacrifices, hard work, determination, and realizing that even the changes we perceive as minute can have a drastic effect on the lives of people used to the bare minimum. Some people dream and long for the type of life far too many take for granted. As impoverished population numbers drop due to hunger, or disease, those who could have done something now but didn’t will be left wondering if the loss of a vital community and its cultures was an adequate price to pay for the bliss of ignorance. In the end, human resolve is a powerful tool. But it’s how we utilize that tool that makes all the difference. We can all use its opportunities and benefits to make ourselves happier and the world in its entirety a better, safer place. Or we can choose to live under a cloud of selfish intentions and guilty consciences, and we can look back on our lives later on and wonder, if only.

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What does volunteering mean to you?

May 28, 2020 by Caroline Lidz

Before gaining some “field experience” with volunteering, I had a very narrow understanding of what volunteering really is. I associated the idea of volunteering with crowds wearing the same ugly neon t-shirt while completing the same mundane task. Little did I know that volunteering could encompass designing the t-shirts, organizing the events, and designing the visual identity for a cause. Volunteering, as I have learned, demands organization, creativity, and invention. I grew up as an art kid with my face behind a camera, and my hands shackled to Adobe photoshop. By creating branding for the New Jersey Student Climate Advocates, I learned how to use my skills to amplify the voices of nonprofits. While the work demanded a level of professionalism, I was able to catalyze my growth as a creative professional while giving back to a cause that I am tremendously passionate about. Put simply; volunteering is equal parts giving back and self-exploration- two attributes that continue to drive my passion for activism. 


Why do you feel it is important to help others less fortunate?


 Privilege is meaningless if you 1) don’t recognize it, and 2) don’t do anything with it. I am tremendously fortunate to have been assessed by mentors, resources, and opportunities that have allowed me to realize my passions and amplify my voice. I am also painfully aware of how lucky I am and how unusually this luck is distributed in the country. Helping others makes me feel as if I am minimizing this inequality and can only hope that others in my community also recognize and act upon their privilege. 


What do you plan to do to make the world a better place?


I plan to amplify the voices of the causes that I am passionate about and others that are less fortunate, I plan on using my talents in graphic design and photography to catalyze the growth of change movements. Through various volunteer experiences, I learned the importance of a well-designed t-shirt, a flawless logo, or an engaging infographic on bolstering community pride and support for a cause. So, to make the world a better place, I fully intended to use my passion for visual communication to give faces to causes that strive to make a difference.


Who is a volunteer that inspires you, and why?

This may sound corny, but my school librarian’s effort to foster community pride inspires me to think of activism on a smaller scale. I have a pattern of looking at massive problems like gun violence, youth homelessness, or climate degradation as a source of activism. As a consequence, I often neglect to focus on issues going on within my community. Comparatively, my librarians focus on the student body and the community by running food drives, crafting cards for sick teachers, and planning mental health activities. Activism, as I learned through my librarians, does not have to be a grand and dramatic movement. Instead, the most effective forms of volunteering and intimate but equally as meaningful.

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How are you helping to make the world a better place?

May 27, 2020 by Alize Gonzalez

I volunteered in a village school in Turkey. They did not know English very well because there were not enough resources for books and good teachers. I taught them the foods that we eat for breakfast and taught them how to make sentences like ‘ I like to eat…for breakfast.’ The subjects I taught were mostly simple English. This experience was very important for me because I saw the other side of the world. There are people who can reach most of the stuff they want. Maybe it is not in an easy way but, still if they try more they can reach them. However, for the kids in this school it is not very possible to reach what they want even though they try hard. It made me realize more that the world does not only contain where we live it contains both positives and negatives. In order to make them equal we should try to help both parts. Because when we can have what we want the other part cannot have it and not sharing would be selfish. To help the less fortunate will bring all of us together and help them live a happier life. Even doing something little can make wonders in someone’s life. I hope more people can engage in this wonderful act and touch someone’s life. After my experience in the school I plan to make campaigns for kids both nationally and internationally. In my campaigns I plan to make everyone engage in it. In the campaign I will ask my community and school to bring the clothes that they wore when they were little or the one’s that do not fit anymore. We will try to collect dry-food such as legumes, pasta, rice etc. I plan to carry out my campaign with the help of an organization. I am in contact with several of them. For my second campaign I plan to reach kids who are staying in prison with their mothers in Turkey. I want to teach them basic English and make a book reading session for them. Because, they did not do anything wrong and they deserve to be treated the same as other children. I want to give them a warm hug and open a different door even if it is for an hour. One of the reasons and inspiration to volunteer and start a campaign came from Hilary Swank, both an amazing actress and a volunteer. After hearing she volunteered in an orphanage in India and helped them for their education made me realize there are so many kids who need to be reached and are waiting for help. I hope one day everyone realizes the importance of helping and how it can make the world a better place.

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What does volunteering mean to you?

May 23, 2020 by Lilah Lindermann

Every Thanksgiving since I was four years old, my family and I get up early in the chilly morning and put on our snug winter coats. Later that day, we go to my Grandma’s warm and cheery home and eat turkey and mashed potatoes and apple pie. But in the morning, we drive to a church where Volunteers for Long Island making preparations for the day. For the next few hours, we sort clothing donations and apportion food into individual foil trays for people who are homeless, while younger kids make cards using markers and brightly colored paper. I remember how proud I was when I was deemed old enough to help the adults with the food. Along with the clothing and food, we distribute hope. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to help with other projects and collection drives. Whether playing my flute for the seniors at an assisted living facility, organizing a women’s self-defense workshop, or collecting food for victims of Hurricane Sandy, I have noticed that volunteer efforts always bring hope with them. When I got older, I began to volunteer at a local children’s science museum. I’ve led multiple workshops there, teaching young kids about hydraulics, coding, and robotics. The most rewarding part of this experience is knowing that I give them an opportunity to be a scientist, follow the engineering process, and explore a new area of learning. To me, that is what volunteering is all about. Everyone deserves an opportunity to learn, to know that someone cares…to have hope.

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What does volunteering mean to you?

May 24, 2020 by Gia Villegas

Volunteering is one of the most beautiful things in this world. It fosters human connections, something that this world needs more of. As people, it is our duty to be there for one another by helping and encouraging others to grow stronger. I’ve been able to paint the nails of residents at nursing homes, teach a theater workshop to children whose school does not have a theater program and I’ve written letters to a local nursing home to let them know that they are not alone and that we will get through this pandemic together. Through opportunities like these I’ve been able to realize that volunteering acts like a boomerang of happiness and love. Smiles have appeared on the faces of the people I have been lucky to serve, but most importantly these amazing people taught me new approaches to life and made me feel a strong love that is hard to describe through words. I’m so grateful for being able to develop human connections that I would have never been able to have without volunteering. I view volunteering as the missing piece of a better world. A world where people aid other people, where happiness is constantly lingering in the air and where help will not be hard to find. The empowering figure, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

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What does volunteering mean to you?

May 23, 2020 by Jaylen Adams

I’ve volunteered in numerous ways. For instance, I am an advisor on the Youth Council of Charlotte. I represent Olympic High School, acting as a voice to Charlotte’s governing body, as well as the school board. Furthermore, I am an ambassador in training for the Young Black Leaders Association. As a member, I have donated toys to underprivileged students, created care packages for Title One schools, and acted as a model to advertise black beauty. At my own school, I’m a member of many different clubs — Model UN, Student Council, Key Club, Junior Leadership Society, Black Student Union, and so on. I’ve organized Bowling for Babies events for my aunt’s sorority, raising money for disabled newborns. I’ve went to a mission trip in Jamaica to bring supplies to underfunded retirement homes. Volunteering is so important to me. Everywhere I look, I see something I want to change. It can be the education system, the mass incarceration epidemic in America, poverty. There is an intricate web of corruption in our country, and there’s only so much I can do as a high school student. I might not be changing the country right now, but I can be changing one person’s life one toy or smile at a time.

My family was hit hard by the 2009 Great Recession. Both of my parents had lost their jobs. We went from the high middle class to living off unemployment checks just like that. If we hadn’t had those unemployment checks, those food stamps, those family friends who offered us sanctuary, I don’t know what would’ve happened. I know I probably wouldn’t be the straight-A student I am now. I find some people forget where they came from. Everyone will be less fortunate another at one point in their life. A rich man can become poor with one bad investment, and a poor man can become rich with one good investment. As humans, we need to be able to help people through those rough times. You never know when you’ll be the rich man and when you’ll be the poor man.

“As humans, we need to be able to help people through those rough times.”

I have so many plans to make the world a better place. When I’m older, I want to start an animal shelter, a soup shop, and so on. Right now, I would like to start a nonprofit focusing on the mental health of students. When I was a freshman, I was handpicked by my student council advisor to represent Olympic at the Ripple Effect event. This focused on the skyrocketing suicide rates in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and really brought my attention to the plummeting mental health of students. Every conversation I had showed stressed, unhappy teenagers who didn’t how to better themselves. My nonprofit would begin with mentoring. There are so many things I would have done differently in my freshman year if someone had warned me. The long term goal would be renting a space to serve as a sanctuary to teenagers, similar to YMCA.