Guest post by Delilah Useda, student intern
As part of the ideal high school experience, many schools require students to engage in their communities by volunteering at local organizations. My school, Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA), has recently set a requirement for juniors to volunteer throughout the entire school year as part of a service learning project.
As a senior, I remember junior year being pretty busy for me with the volunteering. My tasks mostly included leading young children to create arts and crafts at Westside Community Services in San Francisco at a therapy office. However, instead of hitting that rewind button in my head any further, I decided to interview a friend of mine, who is a current junior. After having a brief conversation with her about her project, I was intrigued to learn more about her interesting volunteering story.
Cynthia Sosa-Cativo, an 11th grader at ICA, kindly spared her time to speak with me about her experience so far. Cynthia is volunteering at an organization called Habitat for Humanity. She chose to volunteer at this organization for her service learning project because she wanted to help people who are in need.
“At Habitat for Humanity, I, along with the other volunteers, help people with low income by building houses for them to live in. We also provide them with the food they need,” says Cynthia.
This particular organization caught Cynthia’s attention because it was something she never imagined herself being a part of. Because this is her first time volunteering, she wanted to dedicate her time at a location where she would make a big difference in the community.
At Habitat for Humanity Cynthia is assigned an area of a house that needs to be built or repaired. “I never pictured myself as a ‘construction worker,’ until I was handed a set of tools such as hammers and nails and was told to help build a house.”
A teenager working at a construction site isn’t common, but that’s what Cynthia likes about her organization. “I’ve been given the opportunity to work in the construction field, and along the way I’ve made many new friends, all while helping others.”
As a teenager, volunteering can be pretty difficult. Some might be willing to contribute, while others look at it as yet another task to add to their busy lives. Cynthia, however, is in favor of volunteering. “I have to sacrifice my sleep on Saturdays by having to wake up early and travel to get to Habitat [for Humanity],” she says. “But it’s all worth it in the end. Seeing all the smiling faces I’m helping out makes me feel satisfied with my work.” Cynthia enjoys being a reliable volunteer for this organization. She feels her time is well spent by assisting her fellow community members.
One of the things Cynthia has learned about being a volunteer is that there are many people out there whom she can relate to. She has gotten to know a lot about others and has had the chance to listen to stories that help her see life through another person’s perspective.
Cynthia is now convinced that anyone can volunteer. “It shows me that people volunteer not because they don’t have anything to do, but because they care about others,” she admits. This has motivated Cynthia to let her care for people grow by serving those around her. Not only through this project, but hopefully later on, as well. It is highly recommended by Cynthia for teens to volunteer because it’s fun and rewarding at the end of the day knowing that she contributed to make a difference in someone’s life.
At the moment, Cynthia doesn’t have any plans to volunteer after she concludes her project. However, she would definitely like to volunteer soon for another organization, or perhaps return to Habitat for Humanity since she enjoys it so much. Although she has gotten a taste of volunteering, she hasn’t had enough!
How does Cynthia’s story play a part in the nonprofit world? Teenagers are sometimes frowned upon as volunteers since some organizations might assume they do it just to complete hours. However, just like Cynthia, they can be reliable and determined to lend a helping hand when they are given the chance. It is important for nonprofits to grant young men and women the opportunity to serve at your organizations. Their energy and good intentions are worth it!
Delilah Useda has spent the past nine months as a student intern at VolunteerMatch. As an aspiring writer, she decided to help spread the word on volunteering by sharing Cynthia’s story. After working with us throughout the entire school year, she hopes to take what she’s learned and encourage others in her generation to volunteer. Thanks for your wonderful work, Delilah!