What is your school and grade? How long have you been involved with Hands4Hope? I am a sophomore at Oak Ridge High School. I started volunteering with Hands4Hope in 7th grade, and got involved with leadership in 8th grade.
Why did you join Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference & how did you hear about it? I joined the Hands4Hope Club at Marina Village Middle School after hearing about it through the school newsletter. I had just become part of Ohana Climate Committee, my school’s culture club, and I realized how much I enjoyed leadership and helping others. I wanted to get more involved with my community, not just my school. When I learned about Hands4Hope’s service-learning approach, I was sold! How has Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference helped you in school, with your friends and family, and in life? Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference has shown me how to empathize with others, which has really helped me understand different points-of-view. Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference leadership has taught me so many life skills, from writing a professional email, to collaborating with a team, to communicating efficiently with a large group. I have applied these skills to many different areas of my life, such as my co-chair position on the El Dorado County Youth Commission and role as secretary of Youth and Government. Above all, Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference has helped me become more outgoing, share my voice, and find my place in my community. What has your experience been like since joining? Absolutely amazing. My friend was recently signing up to volunteer at the Winter Boutique, but she was nervous because she didn’t know anyone there. I immediately told her, “Don’t worry. Literally EVERYONE in Hands4Hope is nice.” And it’s so true! My experiences in Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference have been nothing but positive. I have made so many amazing friends, and I have met so many wonderful people through volunteering and leadership - kids from Oak Ridge High School, kids in different schools, people younger than me and people older than me. The Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference adult staff have always made me feel so comfortable sharing my ideas, which I am so grateful for. My friends have a running joke where they make fun of me for calling Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference a “hobby”, but I really do enjoy it so much.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experiences with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference? The school clubs have always been my favorite part of Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference although, wearing an inflatable shark costume for the Endless Summer Beach Party Fundraiser is definitely a close second! My experiences as club president have meant so much to me. I have so much fun learning about leadership at our annual retreats. Working with my fellow leaders has always been a blast. I mostly enjoy teaching others about the service-learning approach the most. It is truly motivating to know that you are not only helping your community, but helping other youth do the same by guiding them to plan and implement their own service project. Right now, our Oak Ridge Hands4Hope Empower club is in the investigation stage, so we are hearing guest speakers from two local animal organizations. Huge thanks to Nicole and Kathy for being such awesome education program coordinators for ORHS!