Tag Archives: Volunteering

FISH & KIDS!

Last December, a couple of my friends and I wanted to throw a Christmas party for the kids and teens of the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation. But our schedules weren’t working out so we moved it to 2010 with a different plan: a field trip to Manila Ocean Park. Meanwhile, a friend of ours from church, Harvard Uy de Baron, also had a desire for the foundation he leads (U! Happy Events Foundation) to have an Ocean Park event. To cut the long story short, we all joined together to come up with the event now known as Fish & Kids.

Here’s our grand “family picture” from last Saturday:

I really appreciate Harvard and the U! Happy Events team for the work they put into this. Because of them, more kids were able to come, and everything just went smoothly. The volunteers were awesome for donating their time and funds to sponsor the kids, not to mention that they were all excellent ates and kuyas! Thank you to everyone who supported this event–you all made this happen! Everyone had a blast! :)

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Fish & Kids on February 6

Come one, come all! If you’re free on February 6 (this Saturday) from 10 am to 2 pm, come and be an ate or kuya for a day! For more details (fees, directions, etc.), click here or on the photo below. I hope you can join us! (And if you’re coming, wear blue — the brighter, the better!)

Superhero series: KYTHE

Today I want to talk about an organization called KYTHE. I’ve been hearing about Kythe since my college days, but I never got around to joining. I’m thankful that I finally had a chance to be a Kythe volunteer last weekend when my family decided to spend a morning at the National Children’s Hospital cancer ward as volunteer play buddies.

Kythe is an organization that aims to help alleviate the anxiety of pediatric patients and their families by uplifting their spirits and strengthening hope. Their slogan–“Because children should be flying kits, not fighting cancer”–says a lot about the heart behind the foundation. They have a lot of programs (they’ve been around since the early ’90s) and they serve several hospitals, making it a good organization to join if you have a heart for children and you’re looking for an opportunity to serve as a volunteer.

Last Saturday at National Children’s Hospital, a child went up to me and grabbed my hand and asked me what my name was. The boy’s name is Macmac, and he has leukemia. He also has the brightest eyes and one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen:

He says he’s been in and out of the hospital for years. He’s originally from Bicol, but moved to Manila with his family for his treatments. He’s friendly, funny, and full of life. Because he’s been in and out of there, he knows a lot of the patients and he knows his way around the hospital (he gave me a mini-tour of sorts!). During the time we spent together, we read books, answered word puzzles, played board games with his fellow patients, and spotted the tallest buildings that we could see from the hospital window. I watched him happily wolf down his Jollibee Chickenjoy and Spaghetti meal (we both agreed that between the two, we liked the Chickenjoy more). I wish I could’ve spent more time with him, but when it was time to go, I took a photo of him, and he insisted on taking a photo of me. I said a prayer for him and we hugged each other tight, and then he waved goodbye as he went back to reading his new books.

Meanwhile, not all children are as fortunate to have the energy of Macmac. A lot of the other children in the ward were extremely weak and could barely speak or move. There was one boy who was happily playing a board game with us, but later on in the hour, he was wailing in pain because his condition caused his knee to swell and the pain was nearly unbearable for him. His mother went out to call the nurse and the doctor, so we had to comfort and console him in the meantime. Unfortunately, as much as we wanted to help him at that moment, there wasn’t anything we could do but hug him and pray for him. And as he wailed and twisted in pain, I couldn’t help but feel a deep pain in my heart for this child.

During times like these, you realize that your own struggles are tiny compared to what other people are going through, and if you let it happen, your heart will grow as you learn that you are capable of loving more than you thought you could.

If you have some time and love to share, be a Kythe volunteer. For more information on Kythe and how to volunteer or support their projects, check out their website at http://www.kythe.org.

Superhero series: JOREL CORPUS

I miss one of my best buddies, Jorel (also known as the guitarist of the local rock band, Kjwan), who’s over at Boston, living it up at his dream school: Berklee College of Music. He recently put together a benefit concert for the Typhoon Ondoy victims. Check it out here:

We were already proud of Jorel way before this, but seeing this video reminds me of how much we miss him and how talented, passionate, and selfless this guy really is. We miss you Jor, see you when you get back! (Huwag ka na humirit! Haha!)

Treats!

See the treats that the students from Young Focus made at yesterday’s baking class conducted by my friend, Camille Ocampo:

Carrot cupcakes

Chocolate cupcakes

Food for the Gods

Everything they made turned out to be delicious! The treats were gone in 60 seconds! Here we are with the class and Grace (one of the social workers) of Young Focus:

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Before the class started, Camille spoke about how one of the goals of the baking class was simply to let the students discover for themselves that they could do it. Mission accomplished! Their faces were glowing after the session!

Camille pointed out that most people get intimidated by the thought of baking and they think that it would be impossible to learn. So when they realize that they can do the impossible, truly wonderful things happen! They feel happy, they feel more confident, and they feel more encouraged to take on something else that they once thought was impossible to do. Seeing that all unfold before my eyes…THAT, for me, was the real treat! :)

So you want to be a volunteer! (Part 2)

As I promised in yesterday’s post, I’d get into more tips on volunteering! :)

1) Do some research.

One good place to start would be Hands On Manila (http://www.handsonmanila.org.ph), a non-profit organization “dedicated to providing members with diverse, flexible volunteer opportunities that address the needs of the community.” This is one of the first sites I visited, and I learned about a lot of worthy and wonderful causes here.

Pay attention to the articles you see in the newspapers or the features you see in magazines and blogs. A lot of great non-profit organizations are highlighted in the media, and you just might hear about a cause that will tug at your heart.

On the right side of my blog page, you’ll see some links under the heading “Pieces of Me”…those are some of the groups that I support because they have causes that are personally close to my heart. ♥

2) Tell your friends about your ‘hunt’.

Maybe some of your friends already do volunteer work but don’t announce it to the public. Or maybe they know of an organization that could really use the time/talent/treasure that you have to offer. At least two of the organizations that I volunteer for at the moment came to my attention through friends, and I’m really thankful they were able to make a match (whether they meant to or not!).

Volunteer Weekend 2009: KC teachers w/the Victory Fort Superheroes!

I love Kids Church! These are my co-teachers with the "Victory Fort Superheroes" during Volunteer Weekend 2009!

3) Sometimes you don’t have to look very far.

Surely, your school, office, village, or church could use your help! One of the groups I love volunteering for is the Kids’ Church (KC) at Victory. Once a month, I get to be a teacher for the Primary class (7 to 9 year olds). It’s really such a privilege to be able to help build and prepare the next generation, not to mention the fact that I just love being with kids! The KC team is amazing, and I’m grateful to be able to serve with them!

4) If you have an idea and no one else is doing it, take a cue from Nike and JUST DO IT.

Don’t let the lack of options stop you. Maybe you’re really meant to start something new! I wrote about my friends Gang Badoy and Carisse Escueta a while back. Read the blog post here, and be amazed at how each woman turned her vision into a reality.

5) Don’t compare yourself to others.

Let’s say that one day you went on an outreach trip and it didn’t turn out to be a very pleasant or fulfilling experience for you. Don’t close your doors forever, and don’t feel bad if you didn’t turn out to be the next Mother Teresa. God created each person to be unique, and maybe your heart just has a burden for another group of people, another place, or another cause. What moves you to tears may not be the same for some of your friends, and vice versa. In this case, it’s better to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Better to move forward than to run away and turn a blind eye forever.

6) Every little step counts.

Many times, it’ll be tempting to just be a spectator. Don’t let procrastination, laziness, busyness, or fear stop you from making a difference. A small step today, a short message of encouragement, a free meal, a couple of hours…every little thing you do can make a difference. Sometimes you may not see it, but you’ll be surprised how one little step of faith you take can change someone’s life.

With that, I’ll leave you with this quote by John Mason from one of my favorite books, The Enemy Called Average:

“Gifts and talents are given to us not only so that we can fulfill to the fullest the call in our own lives, but also so that we can reach the souls attached to those gifts. There are people whose lives are waiting to be affected by what God has placed within you.”

Happy volunteering! :)

Artwork courtesy of http://www.volunteerbc.bc.ca and Victory Fort superheroes photo by Anson Yu

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So you want to be a volunteer! (Part 1)

Early this year, I had this thought: “I want to be of more service.” I was doing the occasional outreach, but I felt I needed to be more consistent. I wanted to be face to face with the people I wanted to serve, not just reading about them or blogging about them–I wanted to interact with them! But who were these mystery people that I wanted to serve, and what could I do for them? I didn’t have the answers just yet, but all I knew was that I wanted to do more.

I guess God heard my prayers at that time, because He brought me face to face to a bunch of teenagers that I would be able to help, and eventually grow to love, and it just worked out that what I had to offer–life skills and personality development training–was exactly what they needed.

So if you find yourself in the same place where I was, start by asking yourself these questions:

1) Is there a person or a group of people (or a species!) that you’d like to serve?

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Do you have heart for children?

Try to be specific. Do you have a heart for orphans? Abused teenagers? Children from marginalized areas? Malnourished families? Drug addicts? People with disabilities? Couples with marital problems? Street children? Animals? Trees? Whales? The options are endless.

For instance, I have a heart for people who are confused, lack confidence, and need direction–specifically people of all ages who don’t believe in themselves, and don’t know how to get passion and purpose back in their lives. I used to think I only had a burden for teenagers with this problem, but I also see it a lot in people my age, and I also see it developing early in young children who feel ignored or forgotten.

Be sensitive to the people around you. Don’t ignore the moments when you felt moved to tears because of something you saw, something you heard about, or someone you talked to. That could be your heart giving you a little nudge in the right direction!

2) If time, money, or resources weren’t an issue, to what cause would you devote yourself?

The options are, once again, endless: abortion, animal protection, alcoholism, child abuse, crime and corruption, disabilities, domestic violence, drug addiction, educational issues, environmental issues, family issues, health issues, homelessness, human rights, human trafficking, hunger, justice system, physical abuse, poverty, spiritual apathy, etc.

Right now, I have a deep desire to help educate the Filipino youth. Not necessarily in the typical school setting, but I have a desire to get people to love learning, and find ways to help them learn important foundations and life skills. It can be through a training program in their community or church, or through a mentoring or life coaching program. Or in the case of RepubLIKHA, it can even be done through music! ;)

Don’t think about what you need yet…just focus on discovering what’s in your heart. :)

3) What do you have to offer? Time, talent, or treasure? (If you have free time, how much time do you have? If you have certain skills or talents that you could offer, what are they? If you have cash or other resources that you can donate, take note of that, too!)

b14Some people get bogged down by thinking, “I don’t have much to offer!” But that’s so untrue! For some people, they have more time on their hands, so it would be practical for them to spend several hours weekly cheering up and taking care of patients in a cancer ward.

Some people may not have a lot of time, but they have certain talents or skills that they could ‘donate’ to other people or groups who could use their services for free or for a discounted rate. For instance, today, I’m looking for a scriptwriter who can help out a friend of mine who’s working on a benefit concert. Or maybe you don’t have to DO something, because in some cases, it would actually be better if you TEACH something. This Saturday, my friend, Camille, is going to teach scholars from the Smokey Mountain area how to bake. And the baking class isn’t just for fun; the students can learn how to bake certain pastries that they can sell in their community so that they can earn money, too.

But for some people, they know that they don’t have enough time to spare at all, but in this case, they know they have some extra resources that they can channel to others who are available to serve. Whether it’s supporting non-profit organizations or missionaries with cash donations, or simply blessing people who are in need–whatever small amount you give could make a huge difference! In many instances, you don’t even have to give cash. You can donate books, clothes, food, etc. Just last week, I have another friend, Karlo, who donated his guitar! It may be random to some people, but I know a group of teenage guys that live in a center/shelter, and all these guys happen to be musically gifted. I also happen to know that they’ve been praying for an acoustic guitar to call their own, so I know their faces will light up when we give them this guitar next week. :)

There you go! Start answering those questions, think about them, and pray about the answers! Tomorrow, I’ll talk more about concrete ideas and action steps you can take. :)

If you have some thoughts about this post–especially if you have some realizations about yourself and how (or who) you’d like to help, leave a comment! I’d love to hear about it! :)

Artwork courtesy of http://www.greenobin.com, 3rd image courtesy of Anson Yu

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