When I was 12 years old, my parents broke the news to me that we were picking up everything we owned and moving to a new state: Oregon. I was devastated. The thought of leaving behind the life I knew and the relationships I had formed seemed heartbreaking. What was in store on this new time in my life? And more importantly, how would I fit in?
I was naturally quiet and pensive in nature. When you’re shy and reserved, it’s incredibly hard to make friends and to have your voice be heard. It seemed like the entire support system that I had created for myself would disappear forever with this move, and I would have to start all over. This seemed so daunting. As I was dropped off to my first day at a new school, I was met with a feeling of unease. Everything seemed so strange and different- and lonely. For months, I struggled to make friends with people who shared the same interests and values as me. I wondered if I would ever feel confident in myself and the gifts that I had to share.
One day, my parents suggested that I join a youth organization that they had been actively involved in when they were kids, known as Job’s Daughters International. The prospect seemed simple enough- join this club, meet new people, and develop friendships! In time, however, I learned far more than that. You see, this organization was centered around a concept they called “philanthropy.” We, as youth, were encouraged to volunteer within our communities, raise funds for social causes, and be in charge of our own events and activities. It was fun while learning leadership skills- and I was having the time of my life! Everything I thought I couldn’t do- such as hosting and planning statewide events, and giving presentations to hundreds of people- became a reality of me. My 8 years within Job’s Daughters International gave me the confidence to be a leader and enact change within the world around me. Not only did I forge lifelong friendships with fellow youths across the country, but I was able to see the passion and skills I had within me.
When I learned about Passion Impact and its mission, I was instantly reminded of my experiences as a youth volunteer. Volunteering shaped me into the person I am today, while simultaneously making an impact on lives around me. I learned to tap into my specific skill set and passions, to inspire and encourage others. I also gained insight into what makes me unique and what I want to spend my life doing.
Not every youth gets an opportunity like this. Various social, economic, and geographic obstacles can impact young people in their growth. Organizations like Passion Impact & Job’s Daughters International, however, can fill that gap and provide the resources these youth need to reach their full potential. As we journey into this years adventures with Passion Impact, I hope you get to learn more about the students involved and their stories. With your help and continued support, we can continue to provide youth an outlet to help their communities thrive, and to find their passions. Sometimes, a person’s true self is just bubbling under the surface- and needs a spark to let it come to life.
As youth, we all tapped into our creativity and imagination. We would develop ideas on how we wanted our world to be. In our wildest dreams, we imagined the change we would create if given the chance. The world was ours and the power to shape it lay in our hands.
The youth of today share that same idealism and it has been motivating them to create significant change in their communities. This spark towards activism has only become stronger in light of recent events. March, 2018, marked a notable time in history- where thousands of students across the country coordinated school walk-outs to protest against current gun laws and violence. This solidarity came in support of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which recently was the site of one of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Through press releases, video segments, interviews, and organized protests, these students have been leading their communities on a scale that is unprecedented.
Portland’s own Franklin High School was just one of many schools that participated in the walk-outs. On March 14th, many Franklin students used their voices to inspire change and gun reform. One student organization, Oregon Students Empowered, helped organize walk-outs at both Franklin High School and Beaverton High School. It was formed for one compelling reason, which they shared: “students have the power to make a lot of change that will impact our future.” Students truly believe in the work they are doing and are challenging themselves to play a more active role in their community, their State and their Country.
If youth are able to garner widespread attention and support for social change, what does that mean for the future? At the heart of all activism is the spirit of its volunteers. Students are volunteering their time and voice to encourage political, environmental, and social change. This involvement helps shape them into our future professionals and our leaders of tomorrow.
Volunteerism, whether it be motivated by activism or by the desire to positively impact the people of a community, is a platform from which students can derive and implement constructive ideas of change as well as to discover their passions and use their skills to better their communities. As long as students continue to volunteer and inspire others to do the same, society will continue to evolve. The world that we imagined so long ago is on its way to becoming a reality.
Public Relations Intern
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Oregon Students Empowered; BHS Students Participating in one of several walkouts across Oregon to gain awareness for school shootings.