Students Find Meaningful Experiences While Volunteering

Freshman Madison Alvarado and Megan Miller both enjoy volunteering at NCL.

Bailey Smith

Freshman Madison Alvarado and Megan Miller both enjoy volunteering at NCL.

Bailey Smith, Staff Writer

Volunteer work is a prevalent part of many students’ lives here at Miramonte. Although volunteer work looks appealing on college applications, it’s usually not the reason why people do it. The majority of students volunteer at organizations they’re quite passionate about helping.

Senior Gina Pagan volunteers at Project GO (Great Outdoors). Project GO is a nonprofit organization that aims to bring inner-city kids into nature; their primary activity is river rafting.

“I volunteer there because river rafting is one of my favorite things to do and I’m training to be a guide. Plus, it’s super rewarding to take kids on the trips because they love it,” Pagan said. The sense of accomplishment one receives by giving children experiences they wouldn’t normally have at home is a primary reason people volunteer.

Senior Katherine Hsu volunteers at John Muir Hospital.

“I volunteer at the hospital to get a sense of what it’s like to work in a medical facility and more importantly, to help people,” Hsu said. Like many others, Hsu volunteers to gain knowledge about potential career paths while also receiving the satisfaction of helping people in need.

Junior Brendan Afshar volunteers at an organization called Save The Bay. This organization aims to keep The Bay Area clean for all of its inhabitants.

“I volunteer at Save The Bay because I care for my environment and I believe that one person can make a difference. I do what I can: clean beaches, hand out papers to spread awareness about the preservation of our environment and so on. Ultimately, I want to keep the Bay clean,” Afshar said. Certainly there is tremendous pride in cleaning our environment and making life better for not only people, but for animals too.

Sophomore Claire Manrique has volunteered at many different organizations. In the past few years, Manrique has volunteered her services at the Contra Costa Food Bank, Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, and at Santa Maria Church here in Orinda.

“My favorite place to volunteer was at Santa Maria Church. I helped take care of kids who don’t have a home and spent the night in tents at the church. I like volunteering because I really enjoy helping other people get the things they need. It just makes me happy to see people who aren’t as fortunate as us smile and be happy,” Manrique said.

Doing charity in your hometown is very important because people often get wrapped up in volunteering at an organization far away and forget that there are people who need help in our general vicinity.

Many students volunteer their free time to serve food to homeless people. Freshman Megan Miller volunteers at an organization called Loaves and Fishes through NCL (National Charity League).

“I love seeing the smiles on the people’s faces when you give them their food. It’s also really fun working with the regular staff there. The fact that I’m giving back to people in the community makes me feel really good about myself. I especially feel good when I see little kids running to get the food we prepared for them. Also, my family and I bring clothes in sometimes and it’s great to see how excited people get when they receive them. It’s a really rewarding experience that I love to do,” Miller said.

Freshman Madison Alvarado also volunteers her time at NCL.

“My favorite part of NCL is probably working with different charities and organizations and seeing how much your time volunteering helps people,” Alvarado said. “It’s a really unique experience when you’re standing in a soup kitchen, feeding people what might be their only meal that day, and seeing how much they appreciate you volunteering your time, or how much they need you to help them get through their day-to-day lives. Not everybody can go to Africa and help build houses, or go to some developing country to work in a hospital, but through NCL I feel like I’m making a difference within my own community, and even though it’s not on a global scale, it makes me feel good knowing I helped someone.”

Whether you volunteer at an organization that helps homeless people, or an organization that aims to preserve our environment – places people volunteer really spark a passion in them to help others. I think it can be agreed upon that volunteering is a really gratifying experience.