This I Believe

Ryan - Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Entered on January 6, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in compassion. Helping those people, who are less fortunate, puts my life into a completely different light and perspective. Just trying to fathom all of the struggles these people have to go through is eye opening. When I help and assist those less fortunate, I am overpowered with a feeling of heartwarming satisfaction.

I am involved in many different service organizations including 4-H, Junior Vistas, and Los Hermanos. When people ask me about 4-H, they have a preconceived notion that it is only about raising animals, but 4-H is more than that to me. In fact, 4-H is a group that incorporates leadership, community service, and life skills. I enjoy participating in this group because it has taught me many things and does great deeds for the community. Junior Vistas is a philanthropic group that raises money for children with special needs. For the past 6 years, I have participated in their largest fundraiser of the year, a fashion show at the Beverly Hills Hotel. This year I walked a mentally and physically disabled boy down the runway, since no one else was willing to walk with him, including his own sister. He was the only special needs child in the fashion show, and it was a wonderful experience to be able to assist him down the runway, so that he could participate. This past Thanksgiving, I went to the Boys and Girls Club in Harbor City with my Los Hermanos group, which is comprised of 22 boys from different high schools who volunteer their time to different organizations throughout the community. I personally served more than 300 people, and I felt so happy to be able to serve a full Thanksgiving dinner to so many families who would never be able to afford to make their own. Our group also volunteers at the LA Mission and assists with the homeless as well as at Belmont Village to spend time interacting and playing games with the senior citizens who would otherwise be very lonely.

Some of the service projects that I have personally contributed to included bringing gifts for a “chosen family” during the holidays and volunteering at the Pediatric Therapy Network’s Camp Escapades for children with disabilities. When my family brought these gifts to the home of the “chosen family,” I was only 9 years old, and it was the first time that I truly was exposed to a poverty level family. They had a daughter who was blind from eye cancer and I felt such overwhelming compassion because they were so grateful to receive any gifts at all. I also worked with autistic and other disabled children this summer at the Pediatric Therapy Network, where I helped kids participate in fun activities they would normally not be able to do on their own.

By being actively involved in all of these different service organizations, I have a greater appreciation of everything I have and understand the true meaning of compassion and giving.