‘There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.’
“I am a 15-year-old sophomore at Brentwood High School. I am in two organizations: Leaders of the Future and District 1 Youth Advisory Board, which cover most of the Island and help out communities in need.
“In 2014, I did my first community service project, which was cleaning up streets with the Boy Scouts with the Lions Club. After that, I became the Tree Lighting Club president at my school, and I continued to engage with other community service outreach programs. Something that helped me a lot was the encouragement of my parents.
“They came to the United States from Colombia 20 years ago for a better life. What I look back at is how my parents suffered, and how I don’t want other people suffering. I recruited 37 students from all over Long Island, and we created a group where we would serve our community in our free time and give back to those who need it most.
That’s my message to the world: If you want to make this world a better place, lift someone up.
“We all, as young people, have a voice; it’s probably not as powerful as an adult’s, but we can effect change. When I saw my school district throwing food away during the summer due to parents not picking up food for the children, I decided to pick up all that food before it was going to be thrown away and bring it to local fridges where families can have fresh food for their families. It’s a diverse community I live in, and we are here to support one another.
“This past December and January, there were seven families whose houses burned down, and they were left with nothing. We students decided to take action by getting them COVID tests, reusable water bottles, backpacks, hygiene stuff and clothes. If you want to be a leader, you start from ground zero and you continue going up. It’s not only adults, it’s not only our oldest generation, it’s anyone.
“In May, we have a community service project we want to do which involves cleaning up three communities, specifically recreational parks. We plan to clean up garbage and make the space a positive place, not only for the environment, but for the little ones to play. There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. That’s my message to the world: If you want to make this world a better place, lift someone up.”
Interviewed by Hannah Fusaro