For service day the sophomore class was split into two groups. My group went to Yonkers, where we helped an organization called AFYA sort medical supplies. The AFYA workers brought out large boxes of unsorted donated supplies and dumped them onto tables where we sorted and bagged them. My experience at AFYA was extremely fulfilling because I felt that I was directly helping the lives of those in need. Our group worked with such vigor and efficiency that we were able to complete our task before expected. The fact that we were able work with such efficiency and receive such a gratifying feeling will permanently set aside this event as an amazing service opportunity in my mind.
Over the summer I participated in a program in Costa Rica called Rustic Pathways. Within the program a significant portion of our time was dedicated towards community service. Our group helped a local community to build homes and keep their beaches clean. The process of helping a family build their homes was deeply moving to me. On our first day of helping to build we were introduced to the families that lived in the community. They were extremely open and were always there to help if you needed it. Over the course of my stay in Costa Rica, the group and I helped to construct another room for a home. The gratification that I received on the last day as I watched the kids I had become close with smile and yell in excitement at the new room of their home was immeasurable. Before we left from our final session of service the man who owned the property and had helped with construction came to me and said, “You always have friends here, if you ever need a place to stay my home is your home.” I will never forget the feeling that those words gave me.
My Y.P.I. group decided to try and tackle a problem that plagues many youths and robs the, of the formative years of their lives, pediatric cancer. When we began to research the topic I found that I had been greatly underestimating the frequency and severity of pediatric cancer. I quickly became engrossed in furthering my understanding of the problem and the possible solutions. From this research my group and I chose to research and support Hope and Heroes. Our research quickly showed that they were an amazing organization supporting Columbia Presbyterian’s effort to end pediatric cancer.
My group encounter the difficulty that we could not conduct our site visit as it would endanger the patients. Despite this set back our group continued on with this organization. We held an interview with Jeremy Shatan, one of the directors of Hope and Heroes. In that interview he opened our eyes to the level of connection and passion that he held for the issue and those he helped. Despite our failure to reach the second round of presentations my work with Hope and Heroes has helped me to understand the rewarding feeling that charity work brings on.