Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – Chaging the slums

Name: Jazmin Perez
From: Fresno, California
Grade: 11
School: California State University of Fresno
Votes: 0

I
choose to volunteer at my church (Monte Carmelo) in Fresno,
California because the parish is located in a slum area that NEEDS
help and change.

I
spend approximately 10 hours a week volunteering. During summer or
winter, I approximately spend 20 hours a week volunteering since our
youth group plans and fundraises for a three-day retreat named CAPJ
every year.

My
responsibilities as a leader of my youth group are attending weekly
meetings, doing something special for the teens on their birthday
(50-60 teens attend every week), creating reflective skits, helping
out with ideas regarding reflective activities, games, and
scheduling. During the times of preparing for CAPJ, I help out in
major decisions having to do with reservations, speakers, server
jobs, food plans, singers, etc. As a youth leadership team, we are in
charge of planning for parish plays, carnivals and reaching out to
other parishes that need help with their retreats.

My
biggest challenge as a volunteer has been sacrifice. I sacrifice time
from homework, studying, family events, quality time with friends,
and theater shows. It’s challenging for me to see my little brother
frown when I tell him I can’t go to his soccer game because I’ll be
away for the weekend serving at a retreat.

Witnessing
lives being transformed after going to our youth group or retreat is
the thing that satisfies me the most from volunteering.

I
have learned how to be the most selfless I could be. I learn that
there’s way too much to be done in this world to be selfish and being
selfless can be one of the most helpful things I could do to make a
change.

I
see my activities as “forward looking” through the changed lives
of teenagers. Many of the teens that come to my youth group or
retreats come from broken homes and make powerful breakthroughs. When
they heal and decide to change their lives, they violently fight the
statistics of broken homes robbing children of their chances for
future prosperity. “Forward looking” to me means that action was
taken now with the help of hope, dedication, and sacrifice.

The
change I seek to foster in the world via my volunteer activities is
helping teens realize that they have the chance to make a change in
this world regarding environmentalism and politics starting with
themselves. Right now, teens feel very limited when it comes to
making a change and they settle for the mediocre world we live in but
hopefully the events change that mindset.

If
I were to come back in ten, twenty, or even thirty, I WOULD think my
volunteer activities have “made a difference” because I have
already witnessed many changed lives. People like Jessica Palomera,
Alberto Pacheco, and Juliana Rosales are all people who are already
making changes in the Fresno community right now with the motivation
that stemmed from our youth group.


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