KARLA MARTINEZ/Coachella Uninc
COACHELLA — I never knew hanging out with my little brother could be so rewarding, but this has definitely been the case since I started volunteering at his after-school program at Peter Pendleton Elementary.
My high school requires 80 hours of community service and, although I am only a sophomore, I decided this worthy program would be a great way to get started.
I know what it feels likes to have parents who work all day and aren’t able to pick you up right after school. Sometimes, it would be nice to just have someone to talk to about my day. By volunteering at ASES, I not only get to be there for my little brother, but I also get to have a positive impact on the lives of the rest of the students.
My main job as an ASES volunteer is to help kids with their homework. As the kids are getting their homework out, I like to ask them about their day or what they had for lunch. I believe it’s important to communicate with children about little things so they have the satisfaction of knowing someone cares about them. Helping them with homework brings back memories of the way I struggled with the simplest material. I give them the encouragement they need to get through assignments. When we are done, I take the kids outside to interact with each other and play sports.
My experience as a volunteer has been eye opening. All these kids have amazing talents and different ways of thinking. Although I have dealt with a couple “bad” kids, talking to them has allowed me to better understand the mistakes that I, too, have made.
I have developed a fun friendship with the kids at ASES, which motivates me to continue as a volunteer. The most important part of my volunteer work is giving them positive advice and telling them about the importance of school. I constantly remind the students that education gives them the ability to define who they want to be and what they will be when they grow up.
I encourage them to find something they’re passionate about because it might lead the way to the career they want to pursue in life. I’ve learned the importance of contributing to the young minds in my community. It would’ve been nice to have someone teach me a different way of dealing with difficulties when I was their age.
I have also found that kids don’t always have the same advantages. I believe it’s important to dedicate more of my time to the kids who need me the most.
Maybe I am not making the biggest difference in my community, but I am certainly making an impact on these young lives.
To find the right volunteer program for you, visit Volunteer Match.
Karla Martinez, 14, is a sophomore at Olive Crest Academy in Coachella.