On April 29th, the 100th day of Trump’s presidency, I went with a group of Friends students to the People’s Climate March in Washington D.C., to protest Trump’s attitude towards climate change including, but not limited to, his inaction when it comes to finding and funding ways to slow down global warming, his promises to repeal various legislation promoting green energy put in place by the Obama administration, and his appointee to the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt. We were also there to demand that climate change be taken as a serious issue, which effects everyone, and that a more active approach to combatting it be taken in general. Although the conditions may not have been ideal, being that it reached upwards of 90° while we were surrounded by thousands of people, it was worth it. It was very inspiring to see how many other people came to support this issue, one that I care deeply about. I enjoyed seeing other people’s signs, talking to people about why they were there and where they were from, and getting the opportunity to show my support for this issue. Seeing thousands of other people all gathered for the the same reason you are is an amazing experience, and I hope peaceful protests and marches like this one will continue to be a way for people to voice their opinions and show their support for issues that they care about.
On Saturday, April 29th at 4:15 AM I woke up and came to Friends to take a bus to DC. We got to DC a few hours later and soon began the march. I thought it was very inspiring to see some of the other signs that people had made and the various places people had came from. As we were walking we passed the museum of news which had a picture of a journalist who had been detained for speaking out against a government elsewhere, at this point we were surrounded by thousands of people speaking out for the climate, and, to an extent, against the government. This reminded me of the power that a citizen has in America and how it it important to make sure that that power is being used productively.
During service day my group worked with the New York Food Bank and packaged and unpackaged food boxes. My group mainly worked on making boxes for household supplies. This experience was interesting since the work we were doing was important but it was difficult to see the impacts of our work at the site. Overall I thought the experience was very rewarding since we filled many boxes and were able to get food and supplies to people who needed it.
Throughout this past year I have been volunteering at the GO Project (http://www.goprojectnyc.org/) where I had been volunteering as a committed volunteer, and then a leader volunteer. For the first half of the school year I had been a committed volunteer. This meant that every Saturday I would go to the LREI school and be a TA/tutor for a class of 5th graders who either struggled in school, or needed a support system. I got assigned the class of 5B and quickly found relationships between the kids and the other volunteers. However, about half way through the leader volunteer needed to leave, so the GO Project asked me to step up and I did. Now in addition to the other duties, I spoke with the head staff about issues and strategies that could be used in the classroom. I am very very happy that I found the GO Project and will be returning next year.
For completing my service in 10th grade I had decided to work with Zani’s Furry Friends (http://zanisfurryfriends.org) a non-profit dedicated to help the lives and well-being of animals in New York city. I had started off my calling them and just asking what I could do. Since I was under the age-limit at the time I was not allowed to help take care of the animals so I suggested a possible supplies-drive. A middle-school club and I teamed up through Claire to collect blankets for the shelter. The middle school club completely surprised me as they collected around 25 blankets for the shelter which I dropped off and helped out at their central park-gathering.
In Epidemiology class we were broken into groups and assigned a borough to figure out a health care issue and design a health clinic that works with people of that borough. My group was assigned to work with Staten Island and we found that Staten Island had one of the lowest percentages of people who have been tested for HIV. While looking through many of the other categories on the Community Health Survey, I found that many places throughout the city did not have access to many features of health care that we take for granted. Many neighborhoods did not have very high percentages of health insurance and there was a vast gap of those who did not receive needed medical care with, one the district that had the highest percentage being nine times larger than the smallest percentage. Through doing this process I learned how hard it can be to actually make a health care clinic; one of the largest problems was finding a location that many people had access to and also making sure that the price is within reason, in Staten Island cost was not as large of an issue as it was in the other boroughs but we did have a lot of trouble trying to find a place that would be convenient for the population. As a 16 year old I am unsure of how I would be able to make an impact in health care inequity but it would be something that I would be interested in learning about for the future.
In the fall, I helped set up a fundraiser for Women for Women International, which gives women around the world in war torn countries opportunities in business, health care, and education. For the fundraiser, I helped set up, make refreshments, greet the guests, and generally host. The fundraiser for Women for Women International aimed to spread awareness regarding the organization and encouraged people to sponsor a “sister” , which is a long term beneficial relationship with a woman in need across the world. Sponsoring a sister establishes a pen pal relationship and the ability to help your sister get fully educated and fund her own business. The fundraiser was very successful-many people came, and I also got the opportunity to learn more about the specific struggles of women around the world and what I can do to help.
Earlier this month, through the organization Earth Matter I was able to help with planting and animal care on Governors Island. When I arrived we began by sewing rows in order to plant vegetables and other produce of that sort. Throughout most of the day I was working with farming and helping plant seeds. When I was there I also saw a large amount of compost on the island, this is because it is the home of much of the city’s compost, they even mentioned receiving some of the compost which Friends produces. Overall the experience was interesting as I had never really imagined things happening on Governor’s Island but it was eye opening to see that much of the island was used for things like compost and houses for chickens. I enjoyed my experience with Earth Matter and learned a lot.
A few months ago, I volunteered to take pictures of local dogs at the Stuyvesant Park Dog run. These photo were for a Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA) calendar, sales of which would help to benefit the Stuyvesant Park. Arriving after school at the dog run, I and the other student volunteers, first introduced ourselves to owners of the dogs that were there and asked them for persimmon to photograph their dogs for the calendar. We explained that this calendar would benefit the park, and many of the owners were very friendly in giving us permission and inviting us to play with their dogs. I greatly enjoyed this service opportunity as it allowed me to become acquainted with some members of the local community and their pets, as well as being able to do something I love while having fun and knowing that I am making a contribution to our local community.
I volunteered for NYC Cares through an organization called Breakthrough New York. What I did over the summer was, for three days, I would volunteer at a different site for four hours with NYC Cares. I entertained elderly by playing Bingo with them for one of the days. Then, I helped decorate a local library for another day. I also worked at a food pantry. Over the course of the summer, I was able to see the joy in helping others out. The elderly was overjoyed that someone came to visit and you could see it in their faces. The librarians and the people working at the food pantry were also appreciative of what we were doing.