Alumni Spotlight - Marin Cross


Which school did you attend while you were a Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference participant and how many years were you involved?

I attended Folsom High School where I was a Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference participant for 4 years.


Why did you join Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference & how did you hear about it?

I began volunteering with Hands4Hope during its first year as a new club at my high school. I had heard about the club through some mutual friends, and it was suggested to me as a good way to get involved in community service, something we were aware of that would be good to have on our inevitable college applications. My involvement grew over the next four years, from simply volunteering, to taking on more roles within the clubs and greater committees within Hands4Hope, and ultimately leading the Youth Board in my final year in high school.


How did Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference help you in school, post high school and now? How did your involvement help you with your friends and family, and in life?


I attribute my continued commitment to the organization to the programs that had been created for us as youth leaders, as well as to the genuine passion that I saw in our other youth participants. The workshops and programs we had that taught us about our innate abilities, communication styles, conflict resolution, and how to manage groups and meetings have given me skills that I still use today. What was also incredibly impactful was working with and learning from other students. My favorite experience was working with the K-5 program, and getting to watch kids come up with creative fundraising ideas and have a voice in how we could improve our community. I think that empowering students, from Kindergarten all the way into college, is so essential in teaching them that they are capable of creating tangible change regardless of their age. What has benefitted me the most from my experience at Hands4Hope has been the experience and confidence I gained from public speaking experiences in high school. Learning how to promote myself, my team, and something I am passionate about has allowed me to succeed then in a classroom setting to now in corporate meetings.


Describe your very first experience with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference.

My first experience with Hands4Hope was attending a club meeting at Folsom High. It was the first year in which Hands4Hope was an established club at our school, so the meeting was small. I still remember how inclusive the leadership was, and how organized the meeting was - aspects of the organization that never changed regardless of who I worked with or what I worked on during my time with Hands4Hope.


Do you have a fun or funny story about some aspect of your work with us?

My best friend to this day was someone that was in leadership at Hands4Hope with me. We had known each other since middle school, but the experiences we shared in Hands4Hope brought us closer together. It never felt like work when I was able to spend time volunteering with my great friends and I have very fond memories of us at various outreach and community activities.

What value do you think Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference adds to the community?

In addition to the wonderful things Hands4Hope's different programs and initiatives provide to our communities, the service learning model encourages students to be involved in creating a project from the ground up, and to take ownership in their ideas. This type of experiential learning is not readily available in most of our schools and is something that Hands4Hope uniquely gave me and the other students I saw in our programs.


What are you up to now?

I graduated from UC San Diego and now work at Berkeley Lights.