Welcome to my volunteer experiences! There is A LOT of content here because I have been volunteering since middle school and have expanded and refined my volunteer causes throughout high school, university, and now. Below I list the descriptions of my favorite volunteer events, service organizations, and nonprofits going in descending-temporal order by category before telling you how they changed my life and what I learned throughout the experiences. Finally, you have the option to download an XLS file containing all of my volunteer events and hours logged through the United States Corporation for National and Community Service for the President's Volunteer Service Award. Click here for photos of my volunteer experiences.
AJR PUBLICATIONS was a nonprofit-like publishing press I created in order to provide writing and publishing resources to people who otherwise would not have the connections and resources available. As stated on the PHILANTHROPY page, AJR PUB had its run and is now under review in order to become a new and improved publishing press. The primary mission of this upcoming press is to give greater literature access to underprivileged and underserved communities in the hopes that they will raise their voices and use their freedoms to combat their oppressed situations. One major goal that will make the mission of this new press more possible is the establishment of Little Free Libraries in these communities. The new press is still in the creation process, but is well on its way to helping an increasing amount of people.
Inside Books Projects is a nonprofit located in Austin, Texas that I volunteered with and worked for during the entirety of my time at the University of Texas at Austin. In fact, IBP is the only nonprofit in the state of Texas allowed to send educational materials and literature to offenders in prisons for free. Because of my time with IBP, I went on to take additional graduate coursework in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Corrections. I also plan to work with institutionalized populations through my upcoming publishing press. My experience with IBP and the offender community helped me realize the nonprofit, volunteering, and philanthropic skills I could utilize because of my English degree.
I got involved with the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired - the flagship state of Texas education institution for this population - through a course for my Applied Learning & Development degree. Starting out as a volunteer requirement for the course, being a Guide Runner for the students quickly turned into something I did for a year and a half. I would attend their track practices after school a couple times a week in order to run with specific students as they held onto my arm for guidance. I learned a lot about the blind and visually impaired community; I was able to take what I was learning in the classroom and apply it to my volunteering. And in return, I was able to take real-life experiences back to the classroom to share. This experience inspired me to create the plans of providing audiobook versions of books for the library of the school. Although we never succeeded beyond the planning stage of this event, I have incorporated it into the future of my publishing press.
United Saints Recovery Project is a nonprofit organization located in New Orleans that has been dedicated to cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina and other NOLA-based natural disasters for over a decade now. A lot of people don't realize that, even to this day, there is still a lot of debris to clean up and many houses to fix because of Katrina. USRP provides free house-repair services to lower-socioeconomic families that were affected by Katrina and other natural disasters. I spent three semesters traveling to NOLA for a full week each time in order to help this nonprofit change people's lives through free disaster relief services. I learned to further appreciate what I have in my life and the fact that I have never had to endure what natural disaster victims have to experience during and after a disaster strikes. I also learned A LOT about fixing houses. This experience in addition to my service in environment beautification (Keep Austin Beautiful) keeps me aware of the nature around me and why cleaning up litter and keeping everything beautiful is important.
Volunteers In Communities Tutoring Our Responsible Youth (VICTORY) is a joint educational initiative between the City of Austin, Austin Public Libraries, and Austin Independent School District that aims to provide free tutoring and teaching services to every underprivileged and lower-socioeconomic student possible. When I was preparing to become an English teacher at UT, I came across this initiative, which I quickly found myself volunteering with for over a year. I tutored the same child - a middle school student - once or twice a week until he felt educationally-confident enough to leave the program. This helped me understand the self-sustainability that volunteerism is supposed to bring to underserved communities. Before this, I never knew that there was an end goal to service.
Kiwanis International is one of the largest service organizations in the world. With it's mission to serve children and create self-sustainable communities along the way, it's no wonder that it has a variety of youth service programs from elementary school to university. Starting in the high school program - Key Club, - I experienced various volunteer events and initiatives from cancer research fundraising to working with other international nonprofits such as Unicef and March of Dimes. After four years with Key Club, I moved on to the collegiate-level program, Circle K. There, I learned to hone my volunteer passions and focus primarily on events that help children and education initiatives, such as The Settlement Home for Children and Nashville Public Library. After receiving my undergraduate degrees, I went on to join Kiwanis and dedicate my time to Serving the Children of the World, just as the motto states.
Alpha Phi Omega is the world's largest collegiate service organization, dedicated to four areas of service: organization, campus, community, and nation. While keeping volunteerism well-rounded, APO also keeps its members well-rounded through providing leadership and fellowship opportunities. Its mission is to prepare each volunteer to become a leader through service. As you can see from the amount of hours logged, I conducted the majority of my university volunteerism
through this organization. I was recognized as the member with the most service hours in the world for three semesters straight, receiving the Outstanding Student Volunteer Award, the Susan Amanda Service Award, and the Rapoport Service Scholarship for full tuition. While my focus was mainly on service, this organization also equipped me with the necessary leadership and camaraderie skills to succeed as someone who can make a bigger and better difference through any volunteer event.
Serving The Community - for hours logged, see IBP & HOBY
Rapoport Service Scholars is the educational and organizational portion of the Rapoport Service Scholarship. In order to maintain the scholarship, I was required to take several courses in service-learning and leadership while also performing at least 200 hours of volunteer work each summer. I conducted my hours for this scholarship through Inside Books Project and HOBY - the former mentioned earlier and the latter mentioned later. The scholarship covers full tuition in order to alleviate students from financial burdens and in the hopes that students will then be able to help their communities through volunteerism as a priority. As you can tell, this scholarship is the direct influence of the scholarship I created at UT, mentioned on the PHILANTHROPY page.
Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership is a three-day education seminar aimed at high school sophomores across the world. This seminar equips students with leadership and service skills to tackle issues in their communities. I personally attended the Dallas, Texas seminar in 2011, which kickstarted an opportunity for me to travel around the United States to volunteer with HOBY in seven different states at eight different sites; I still volunteer at my home site and the Alaska site to this day.
I volunteered with Eastside Memorial High School - a school educating primarily underserved and lower-socioeconomic communities - for two years with Texas Blazers. I focused on providing free tutoring for the students in the course-makeup program and also in campus beautification through painting murals and cleaning up the garden at the school. Working with children who are growing up in different circumstances and environments than I did puts volunteerism into perspective for me and reminds me why I prioritize it.
C5 Texas is a multi-week leadership camp designed for middle school and high school students hailing from inner city communities in the state of Texas that are often underprivileged. The camp - located in Killeen - acts as a rural setting away from the city where the students can hang out and learn about volunteerism, fellowship, and leadership. I volunteered as a camp counselor for two years while in university, often spending weekends and part of my summers discovering the wonder and therapeutic effects of rural spaces with the campers.
Aldersgate Enrichment Center is a nonprofit organization located in my hometown and dedicated to providing housing and work for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Through Aktion Club - a Kiwanis service program whose member base consists of this population, - Aldersgate also provides volunteer opportunities to these individuals. I have volunteered with this nonprofit and their service program since high school, which has allowed me to become close to many of the individuals they work with. Because of my time there, I have dedicated a life to helping these individuals through social service work and volunteerism.
Longhorn Best Buddies is the University of Texas at Austin chapter of Best Buddies, an international organization dedicated to the social normalization and de-stigmatization of individuals with intellectual disabilities. I volunteered with this organization for two years while in university, attending fun-filled events around the city of Austin with my "buddy," a term given to individuals apart of the organization. The ultimate goal is to provide as much social interaction and events as possible in order to make these individuals feel as much a part of society as anyone else.
An annual U.S. Government award given to volunteers based on the amount of volunteer hours logged and verified. Although there are three levels (Bronze, Silver, and Gold), I have received the Gold Award every year since participating in the program. This award is given to individuals who volunteer more than 250 hours each year. The recipients receive a gold U.S. emblem pin and a certificate signed by the President of the United States.
Lifetime Achievement Award; 2018
A one-time U.S. Government award given to volunteers who serve at least 4,000 hours over their entire lifetime. The recipients receive a blue U.S. emblem pin and an enlarged certificate signed by the President of the United States.
If any piece of information on this page piques your interest in any way, feel free to reach out to me via the contact links on the HELLO page.