As Giving Tuesday approaches, it’s natural to want to encourage your kids to find a meaningful way to give back. Read on to hear about three New Jersey teens who have linked their passions with impactful ways to make a difference.
Sachi Goel created a new section for the Être girls’ mentorship website called “Be Brave Enough to Write Your Own Story,” and interviews women and girls about the effects and impact of current-day stereotypes. Être is a mentorship platform founded by NJ mom Illana Raia to help girls figure out who they want to be. Sachi also did her first TED-Ed talk this year, focused on the same topic. Her volunteer interests include stereotypes, gender equity, combatting discrimination and allyship.
Hometown: West Orange
School: Newark Academy
What is the focus of your community service?
Inspiring girls and informing them about the effect of stereotypes
How long have you been working on this? 2 years
Who does it benefit?
It can benefit everyone. It has benefited me, as I have learned and gained so much from the interviews that I have taken and the things that I have learned about website development. The girls who read this can be inspired by other strong women’s experiences, and maybe be interested in some of the work that these women and girls are doing. Girls who read this section can also be inspired by the work I did and maybe try to carry out their own interviews and own projects.
What inspired you to start this? Stereotypes and racial injustice were all over social media. I wanted to make my own change and leave my own mark. I wanted to get at the root of the problem, and that starts when you are young. It may not seem important, but being educated as a young individual is crucial to the development of society.
What does giving back mean to you? Giving back means getting back. You get back positive energy as well as the relief that you did something in this world and helped someone in some way.
Arianna Perez tutors younger students and develops cultural dance presentations for nursing homes and local community events. Her volunteer interests are mentorship, education and cultural diversity.
School: Montville Township High School
What is the focus of your community service? The focus of my community service is tutoring elementary school kids. I am also a member of a Galician Folklore group that plans cultural presentations for nursing homes and the community.
How long have you been working on this? I tutor children about two or three times a week and as needed in the summer. My folklore group plans monthly events and holiday events.
Who does it benefit? Tutoring children in elementary school benefits the students and their families as the children work on improving their academic abilities. The folklore group benefits the community as it encourages cultural enhancement throughout various committees and agencies.
What inspired you to start this? I started tutoring children after seeing my brothers struggle with doing their homework. I joined the folklore group after attending a parade and seeing the happiness that their presence brought to people of the community. At this moment I realized that I wanted to be a part of a group that brings happiness, joy, and shares cultural history to others.
What does giving back mean to you? In my heart, I believe that one of the best ways of giving back is by spreading joy and bringing smiles to many faces!
Samantha Raia organizes and distributes care packages of essentials, gifts and toys for patients with extended hospital stays. Her volunteer interests are cancer treatment and recovery, family care and extended hospital stays.
Hometown: Upper Saddle River
School: Immaculate Heart Academy
What is the focus of your community service? The focus of my service is to give back by putting together gift bags, care packages, essential bags, toys, etc. for those who are staying in the hospital for an extended amount of time.
How long have you been working on this? Usually 3 weeks during each month
Who does it benefit? Typically women in the John Theurer Cancer Center and children in the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital both in Hackensack, NJ. But I have also done a drive for Walter Reed Military Medical Center.
What inspired you to start this? Since we were still in the middle of a pandemic at the beginning of the school year (September 2020) we weren’t able to do in-person community service. At IHA service and giving back is a big part of what we do- so they gave us the opportunity to start a new service project or work with a junior or senior (at the time I was a freshman) so I started From My Heart to Yours.
What does giving back mean to you? For me, giving back is the most important thing I can do with my time. It isn’t an obligation, it is an opportunity for me to spread positivity while putting a smile on people’s faces.
Learn more about Samantha’s service by watching the video below: