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Alumni Spotlight - Niagara Pal

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

I was part of Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference for 5 years, most of which was while I was a student at Mira Loma High School. In addition to being a participant in Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference events, such as Kids’ Cafe at the Green Valley Community Church and the Fourth of July Kids Zone Carnival, I was also the founder and president of the Mira Loma High School Hands4Hope Club.

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

I became very passionate about volunteering early on in my childhood. I started helping at the Twin Lakes Food Bank in Folsom when I was 11 years old, and I volunteered every week during the summers. Once I reached high school, I started to look for ways that I could expand my efforts and support other important causes in the community. I met some Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference participants at the food bank and was immediately excited at the prospect of joining an organization that supported volunteer opportunities for young people. I also really liked the idea behind the school clubs, because I wanted to be able to organize other interested students and design events that could directly impact the community. I decided to start one at my own school, and through that experience, I was able to support women’s shelters, children’s homes, and food banks in other cities, while also growing my leadership and organizational skills.

3. 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? (Do you have fond memories of working with friends and family on your projects?)

My experience at Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference instilled in me a lifelong passion for service and taught me key leadership skills that have been helpful in all the work that I have done ever since. In college, I was one of the leaders of an annual “Day of Service”, which organized 500 volunteers and assigned them to work with nonprofits in the city. I also founded a marketing club where I led projects that supported nonprofits in their marketing needs, such as developing social media strategies and creating short commercials. Both projects required management skills and a fundamental understanding of nonprofits, which I learned through leading a Hands4Hope school club. Currently, I volunteer with a NYC advocacy group called Hunger Free America, which is focused on building the movement to enact federal policies that will eventually end domestic hunger.

4. Please describe your volunteering after graduating from Cornell.

During the summer of 2019, I returned back to Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference after graduating from Cornell University to support the organization in the marketing and communications department. Because I am passionate about supporting nonprofits, I wanted to get a better understanding of how I could use my degree in Marketing to better my community. I created videos for social media, supported the preparations for the Youth Leadership Camp, and joined the Silent Auction donations committee for 3 months.

5. Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experiences with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference?

I'm really grateful for the opportunities that I had during my time as a Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference participant. I truly believe that my positive experiences with the organization shaped who I am today, and I’m excited to use the lessons I learned as I continue to grow.

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