Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2017 – Time for Change

Name: Julia Montanez
From: Sylmar, California
Grade: Sophomore (10th)
School: UC Santa Barbara
Votes: 0

Shopping carts filled with clothes on the sidewalk, trash cans raided for any
available cans, people young and old holding up signs begging for
food, money, or change. Throughout my neighborhood, citizens are
exposed to homeless residents living in the community. The homeless
in my community does not make me angry, but evoked a desire to see a
change occur to help these individuals. My opinion was heard as I
began to volunteer through a program called ServiceWorks.
ServiceWorks helped us act upon issues we felt needed solutions. We
decided to run a food drive at a park to distribute food and
toiletries. Weeks before, we promoted the event on social media and
collected donations from our school. As a volunteer, I was in charge
of collecting all the volunteers’ waivers, writing a speech to
greet all the participating volunteers, and distributing the
donations to the homeless. The biggest challenge I faced was not
attracting a lot of homeless individuals to the food drive. Our lack
of promotion around the actual community and not just on social media
was the root of this challenge. Seeing each individual’s face and
overall persona light up the moment they were given a donation gave
me the most satisfaction. These individuals were surprised by the
acts of kindness and felt happy and that they mattered in society.
After the event, I realized how I take certain aspects of life for
granted. The experience made me start appreciate all the little
things in life, like having a roof over my head and being able to go
to school. Even though it was a small number that we were able to
feed, we still were able to make a change in our community. I learned
that small acts of kindness can have a huge impact and can implement
others to be kind and create a ripple effect of change. Most
importantly, I realized that I am capable of making a significant
change in my community, that all I need is a vision, motivation, and
a desire to make my vision a reality.

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