While in Washington DC during the first semester, I volunteered at Thompson Elementary School. I worked there with my classmates for three hours a day. One hour was spent playing basketball and the other two reading with the kids. Thompson Elementary is a predominantly African American and hispanic underfunded public school. In general the goal of the program, “Books and Basketball”, was to keep the students off of the streets for the three hours after school. The parents of the kids were generally unable to pick their kids up after school, because they were still at work, so the program also helped the families gaining them three hours extra of work. Working with the kids was a lot of fun. Both their reading and athletic skills grew exponentially throughout the duration of the program, and both they and their parents were grateful for our work.
This year one of the things that I had the opportunity to do again was assisting in preparing meals for the Friends Shelter. I got to plan, purchase, and prepare meals for the shelter. I really enjoy doing this because it both gives me the opportunity to do something that I love and to help people who are less fortunate than I. I have done this every year so far but as the years have progressed, so have my cooking skills as well as my independence in the planning of the meals.
For service day this year I had the opportunity to help out in a food bank in West Harlem. We helped bag fresh vegetables and assisted the customers with getting their food. It was a great opportunity to see all of the different people who use this service and have the chance to interact with them in English and a little Spanish.
A couple of weeks ago I went to friends serve, an event where many people came to serve the community. I went to styvusant park where I planted, depotted, and gave mulch to plants. This brought back memories of It’s my Park Day back in lower school. I love working outside and this event is a great way for the community to come together.
This winter I volunteered with the Coalition for the Homeless. I helped distribute food from a van to people who knew the van’s daily path and were waiting for food. It was amazing to see not only how nice the people were but also the relationship between the person who drives the van every few days and the people waiting for him. He knew most of them by name and asked how they were doing. Many times we would stay a little longer at a stop after we had given out the food because he was catching up with someone and asking if they needed anything else. This experience gave me a whole new view on the people in the city and shed light on a system of support that I had never seen before.
This year on Service Day I was able to go and volunteer at the Community Kitchen of West Harlem. We were able to go help stack up and hand out food to people in need as they shopped at the kitchen. We put all the cans and food up to make a supermarket for people to come and pick things up that they needed. They were able to shop with a point system and my classmates and I guided them throughout the kitchen. All the people I helped seemed happy and seemed to be thankful that I was helping them out. I really enjoyed talking to the people getting food and helping them find what they need.
This April, I went to Washington D.C. and participated in the People’s Climate March. The event was meant to raise awareness about the largely disregarded issue of climate change, as President Trump refuses to acknowledge this looming problem. People of all different walks of life came together to take action and speak out against a common issue that affects everyone regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, beliefs, religion, etc. I was so inspired by the passion that was so clearly seen and heard in the crowd, and by the variety of signs I saw. Though attending this march is only one step in the right direction towards solving climate change, this march helped to show the administration that we will not give up until change occurs, and I was glad to be a part of this monumental step.
For Service day this year, my advisory went to a Food Bank in Harlem that provides groceries to underprivileged individuals. We went to help distribute the food products. This was a really amazing experience to be a part of. I was able to use my Spanish skills to communicate with those who came for food. We were able to help them pick out a balanced set of groceries. All the people who came for groceries were incredibly thankful and kind. I felt like my classmates and I were really making a difference in these peoples lives. When doing service a lot of the time you don’t see the direct positive impact you are having because you are normally separated from the people you are helping. Being able to see the positive impact I was making in the lives of these people and in the community was something amazing to be a part of. Having this great experience made me want to help at a food bank again in the future.
In January of this year, I participated in the Women’s March in Washington DC. It was an amazing experience. I was a part of something that will go down in history, surrounded by millions standing for women’s rights around the world. It was extremely empowering and even a little emotional. I hope to continue going on marches like the Women’s March in the future so I can hopefully bring about some change!
At the end of April, I participated with a rag-tag band of fellow Friends Seminary upper schoolers and faculty in the Peoples’ Climate March in Washington D.C. Despite having to wake up at an hour significantly earlier than I was used to, I was feeling enthusiastic to participate in something meaningful while on the bus ride there. Upon arriving, I was immediately discouraged by the intense heat that awaited us(which was suited the cause of the march) and already tired from an early wake up. However, I was inspired by the unwavering passion of the other protestors and their commitment to spreading our message (even though the President was not even in DC at the time of the march). There was also a band of Pro-life advocates trying to distract us from the march which was irritating, but I was grateful that I had the rare opportunity to meet people with a range of opinions much different than mine. Although the heat was excruciating, it constantly reminded me of our cause and motivated me to continue marching. It was truly something I will never forget.