School: Lafayette College
Goal in life: Make as big a difference as possible through many different outlets.
Hobbies: Drawing, Fitness, Scuba Diving, Travel, Community Service
Interesting Fact: I’ve scuba dived with hundreds of sharks in the Caribbean and I’ve walked with a dozen lions in South Africa.
How did you get involved in KHK? Two years ago, Jennifer Kelley reached out to me after hearing that I was working at a Social Media company designed by teenagers for teenagers. At the time, I was also volunteering with Sunday School at my church in New Canaan and although I loved spending time with the children who attended, I felt as though I was lacking a greater sense of fulfillment. I then started regularly attending Kids Helping Kids meetings where we were not only encouraged to volunteer, but to be creative and to use what we love to do and turn it into an opportunity to help others.
What did it mean to you to become an ambassador? Becoming an ambassador, to me, was affirmation that I could make a difference. I was now a leader and I had a title to prove it. It was from that point on, that I truly felt as though my actions could impact someone else’s life and I wanted to use this opportunity to do just that. A quote that my grandfather once told me that is near and dear to my heart reads: “Aim high and believe yourself capable of great things” (Stuart Higley). It’s such a simple thought, yet it’s one that holds immense possibilities: all we have to do in order to succeed, is to believe. Kids Helping Kids believed in me even when I didn’t. It has surrounded me with an amazing community that encourages rather than competes, one that I will miss dearly as I leave for college in the fall. It has made me a leader and helped me to see that I, too, am capable of great things and for that, I am eternally grateful.
What have you learned from working with KHK? First and foremost, I’ve learned of my own abilities as a leader. I’ve had to handle many difficult situations and make many difficult decisions while having leading roles in various projects. Since I became involved with KHK, I’ve accomplished more than I ever imagined simply by gaining the confidence to ask for help and to get things done in the way I believed would be most effective. I’ve taken on great responsibilities in my last two years at Kids Helping Kids and I’ve succeeded greatly by doing so. I’ve had to trust my instincts and believe that I could make a difference, however big or small, if I was willing to commit my time and effort. Secondly, through the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met, I’ve gained a new outlook on life (as cheesy as that sounds). I’ve met incredible people who have endured illness, homelessness, and incredible losses that I can’t possibly imagine living through. I’ve come to realize that I take advantage of the simplicities in life, like food, shelter, clothing and education, every day. I’m truly blessed that I don’t have to suffer in the ways that some of these wonderful people do and that alone encourages me to help in any way that I can. I learned that donating clothing or shoes or even hair can make a huge difference in someone’s life, no matter how small a deed it may seem.
Has KHK inspired you? How? Kids Helping Kids has given me infinite possibilities to turn my passions into action and having had that opportunity and having seen the potential each of our volunteers possess, I’m inspired to continue the work that I’ve done and stay in touch with KHK even as I go off to college. I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to volunteer for KHK and even start and manage my own project over the past two years. It has given me a sense of confidence that I never had before I started volunteering and I hope that I can be an inspiration to the other volunteers so that they can all recognize that each of them have the potential to make a difference.
What is your favorite part about working with KHK? Kids Helping Kids is a community where you’re encouraged to step outside your comfort zone and take risks because that’s how you become a strong leader. Every student is encouraged to do what he/she truly wants to do because being passionate about your cause is the most important factor to making a change. Whether you just love to volunteer and attend a couple annual events or you want to take the next step and create an individualized project, we encourage you to do what you’re passionate about. For me, it was taking on a bigger leadership role and turning my love of fashion into an opportunity to give beautiful dresses to the women of the Yerwood Center in Stamford. I was surrounded with a supportive group of KHK members who wanted to see me succeed and because of that, I was confident enough to push boundaries and step outside the box in order to achieve my ultimate goals and make the biggest difference I could make.
What advice would you give to kids thinking of joining KHK? Give it a try! We want you to be the leaders and we want you to tell us what you’re passionate about. Even if you have no idea what you’re passionate about, you’ll have the chance participate in brainstorming sessions, attend various events with many different causes and you’ll meet other incredible people who love to serve and who can help you discover what you want to be doing.