Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – Coming Together

Name: Viridiana Villasenor
From: Newark, New Jersey
Grade: 12th grade
School: Technology High School
Votes: 75

Through my community youth group I have had the ability to develop a love
for my community that fuels my passion in community service.
Unfortunately not many people in our town see a person on the street
like a friend or someone in need of a helping hand, but rather simply
as a lazy drug addict, and a criminal. Once a week during the summer,
I attend a program called
Work Camp.
Where youth groups from all over New jersey get together and give
back to our community. There are many tasks to accomplish throughout
the week, this includes, going to soup kitchens, preparing and
sending out food, spending the day in a retirement home, special
needs school, and daycares. There is also physical labor with very
little human interaction, such as cleaning schools, homeless
shelters, scraping doors and floors, painting, and moving furniture.
The biggest challenges I face during these times isn’t the
physical work presented to the group but being able to face others
everyday lives knowing that I a place to sleep every night and food
to eat every night. Although at times difficult, it is something I
always look forward to. It is an amazing experience where teens get
to do behind the scene work as well as meet and talk to all types of
people, this allows eye opening experiences with both the beauty and
harsh life realities.

As a volunteer in the CYO work camp program one has learned that in
order to become a better town and have a better environment to live
in, we all have to get together to make change; we all have to unite
and help our neighbors.

Looking forward I would enjoy getting others to really see what they have
around them, and how much our home needs our help. To make a change
we have to start at home. Like my youth leader Belkis Tejedor always
said “Charity starts at home”. It is important that as community
we learn to humble ourselves and help others. By going out and
helping clean a sidewalk, picking up trash, talking to a lonesome
person, going out to food pantries, helping bring life to a shelter
or retirement home, and even adopting a room (meaning:decorating and
cleaning a specific room in a shelter). These activities help the
individuals not only become aware of their surrounding, and others
but to be responsible, and let them learn that they have power; we
all have power to truly make a difference.

If I were to come back in ten, twenty or thirty years I firmly believe
that my volunteer work would have made a difference. Not only am I
helping others, but I am showing those in need that there are people
who still care and want the best for them. As well as I would have
gotten more people involved in helping our community that hopefully
in the future, our community won’t need as much help as it needs
now.


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