ALMANAC: Teens on the scene and their love in serving others

There are many reasons why students choose to volunteer. It could be for college acceptance, career exploration, due to parental influence or religious affiliations or simply just for the love of serving others.

Claremont High School seniors Stella Wong, Alaan Patel and Hayden Yeung shared their experiences and opinions about being active volunteers in the community.

Some individuals may believe that being an active volunteer is very difficult and stressful. However, for Stella Wong, serving others has been ingrained in her daily lifestyle for as long as she can remember.

It all began with her parents’ love for serving others. Their passionate and loving hearts led to Stella’s discovery of how much volunteering can change a person’s character. Stella soon became highly dedicated to acts of service and gained tremendous benefits from the life-changing experiences.

“Volunteering is truly such a humbling experience. No matter the event, there is always a lesson to be learned and a heart to be filled,” she said.

Stella’s appreciation for the community springs from helping children, the elderly and even students her age. Over the past two years, she has dedicated more than 600 hours as an active officer of the CHS Interact Club, a teen version of the Rotary known for having numerous students that serve all over the city of Claremont.

Stella’s favorite event Interact hosts is the annual “Scare Away Hunger,” which takes place at Wheeler Steffen Sotheby Realtors. Interact members collect canned food as an entry ticket for the haunted house. All proceeds are donated to the Inland Valley Hope Partners.

On the weekends, Stella serves the community by volunteering at local Buddhist monasteries, where she helps maintain cleanliness, serves the Buddhist monks food and gains a deeper connection to Buddha.

During the summer, Stella spends her time volunteering at the CLASP program at Mt. San Antonio Gardens. She participates by helping with crafts, miniature golfing, baking, dancing, singing and swimming. She believes that volunteering is more than what people think it is. 

“It is the intangible reward that I feel in my heart for doing something amazing not because someone asked me to do it, but because I genuinely wanted to,” Stella said.

Many teenagers choose to volunteer simply to gain career experience. As for Alaan Patel, his reasoning for volunteering revolves around what he plans to pursue in college.

Alaan plans to study nursing and strives to impress future colleges with his early exposure in the field. He hopes to better his overall understanding and abilities within the field of nursing through volunteering.

As a nursing volunteer, Alaan is able to observe how nurses perform their daily duties and even performs some of those tasks. A day volunteering at Casa Colina for Alaan usually consists of answering room calls, paging nurses that are assigned to a specific room and giving them a heads up on patients’ needs.

He also delivers water, ice chips and patient meals and picks up the dishes once they are finished. Alaan is currently committed to volunteering at Casa Colina for four-hour shifts, one day a week for an entire year.

Being a part of AVID and ASB at Claremont High requires mass amounts of attention that revolve around staying organized, getting ready for college, planning school events and supporting school sports programs. These extracurricular activities have helped Alaan develop better time management skills.

For Alaan, the volunteer experience has shown him areas of self-growth. He finally understands the importance of volunteering and, even with his tight schedule, he promises to always make time for the hospital.

“Volunteering is beneficial for yourself and the rest of the community. I recommend for all who are highly interested in a specific career choice to find a way to get hands-on experience,” Alaan said. “For some students, trying something new could potentially lead to a path that helps them figure out what they want to become in the future.”

For Hayden Yeung, finding a “true calling” has indeed come true. While searching for a perfect fit during CHS Club Rush week, Hayden happened to stumble upon the Red Cross Club. Throughout the last three years, he slowly became more involved and worked his way into the Youth Corps and district level areas.

“I began volunteering with the American Red Cross my freshman year because I enjoyed helping others and the Red Cross Club on campus allowed me to find opportunities across the Los Angeles Region to assist others,” Hayden said.

There are multiple aspects to Hayden’s job as a volunteer. From planning youth preparedness fairs, constructing puppet shows to educate children about fire safety, teaching individuals how to perform hands-only CPR, helping to install fire alarms in underdeveloped communities or leading monthly executive board meetings for the Youth Corps, Hayden’s daily tasks are varied.

Determined by the availability of events, Hayden has worked anywhere from one to eight hours a day, averaging 20 hours each month. By working with the Red Cross, Hayden has now discovered career paths he is passionate about and has explored many options within the medical field.

“I knew I wanted some experience in the medical field to find out if it was the right career path for me,” Hayden said. “The Red Cross offered hands-on experiences, as opposed to other organizations, which focused more on fundraising and second-hand assistance.”

By serving as the Blood, Health and Safety Officer for past few years, the Claremont-Pomona executive board introduced Hayden to medical procedures and blood operations.

Through learning about the specific practices, Hayden has developed his fascination with biomedical industries. Ultimately, Hayden has acquired a substantial amount of exposure by participating with the Red Cross. By taking on the position of executive board president of Claremont Pomona Youth Corps, he has obtained many professional and useful techniques.

Hayden has also gained better public speaking skills and also significantly improved his networking abilities. Overall, he firmly believes that he is becoming a more understanding and empathetic person.

Along with these positive characteristics, Hayden has also received advanced certifications in medical treatment, such as YFAST, the Youth First Aid Station, which allows him to volunteer as a medical responder for Pasadena’s Rose Parade. He also has valid certificates in basic life support for infants, children and adults, CPR and AED bloodborne pathogens and emergency oxygen administration.

Each Claremont teen has their own place in the world of volunteering and have countless reasons why they help others. They believe volunteering has tremendous benefits whether through career experience, or simply just to serve others.

They all have gained valuable life lessons through their acts of service and continue to be shaped by their active lives as volunteers.

—Gbemi Abon


[Gbemi Abon is a reporter at the Claremont High School Wolfpacket. She will be a senior at CHS this fall.]


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