On Saturdays since November, I have spent my afternoons being a supportive Buddy at Safe Haven Basketball. Safe Haven is a basketball league for special needs kids to have fun and be active. I support the session with 8-14 year-olds. Alongside other buddies, I help the players do their warmup drills, run basketball drills involving dribbling, passing, and shooting, and overall help players improve their basketball skills. During the last hour of the session, the players have a basketball game and as a buddy I make sure players go to their correct defensive positions and get a turn with the ball.
This service has been a very rewarding experience because I get to see players improve not only their basketball skills but also their confidence.
This summer I volunteered at the Trevor Zoo in Millbrook, NY. At the Zoo, I worked directly with the animals and helped prepare their food and feed them. My main task however, was cleaning their enclosures daily because the animals require significant upkeep to ensure their health. I was also sometimes tasked with weeding and clearing brush around the enclosures. My favorite part was doing enrichment activities where I had the chance to interact with wild animals such as the red panda, fox, and porcupine. Working at the Zoo provided me with a behind-the-scenes view into the operations of a zoo, and let me see firsthand the role zoos play in animal rehabilitation and conservation.
This summer, I volunteered with the Delhi Blind Relief Association (also known as the Delhi blind school), and the Coalition for the Homeless.
I volunteered 16 hours over 2 weeks in Delhi at the Blind Relief Association. There, I made candles (called diyas) and bags for their main fundraiser, the Diwali bazaar. I also interacted with the students in the multi training course. At the blind school, I had the opportunity to attend a graduation there. It was so heartwarming to see the kids singing “We Shall Overcome”, because they truly have overcome so many challenges. It was my second summer volunteering at the Blind School. At the end of our time at the Blind School, my sister Anya and I made a film about our time there.
Back in NYC, I volunteered 5 weeks with the Coalition for the Homeless. I went on the Thursday night downtown food van which stops at 7 places between 7 and 10 at night. At those stops, the other volunteers and I passed out soup, bread, milk and oranges to people in need of food. I love volunteering with the Coalition because it is so rewarding to see all the people we help truly grateful for us. It was my second summer working with the Coalition and I definitely want to continue doing it. Some of the stops were much bigger than others, including in Chinatown where the line would sometimes be up to 100 people long.