High school junior Zoe Siegel might be what you’d call a “go getter.” Musical theater, volunteer projects, school committees and advanced classes are just some of what she’s got on her plate currently. Last month, Zoe became the first GLA alum to join the Global Leadership Adventures International Foundation‘s board of directors. GLAIF is a nonprofit leg of GLA which serves as a year-round channel for support the community-led initiatives our students become passionately involved in each spring break and summer.
“It’s something I was really interested in continuing to work with,” she says. “By funding projects that continue the goals of student’s GLA trips, we show that community service doesn’t end after one trip. We continue to empower and inspire students to make a difference and follow their interests.”
After attending the Costa Rica: Animal Rescue Project™ program in 2018, Zoe served as a GLA Global Ambassador, through which program she shared her passion for volunteering with other students; she became interested in exploring barriers to volunteering abroad for other students as well as what happens to the funding of projects once volunteers return home.
Zoe started her own quest to encourage young people in her area find volunteer opportunities that they could be passionate about. Along with a friend, she started How to Help in Maine.org, which pairs wanna-be volunteers with projects that are in need of manpower, and those with items or money to donate with organizations that could put them to good use. They have recently partnered with Martin’s Point Health Care to create three college scholarships for dedicated Maine-based volunteers.
“Growing up today, it can be hard to find one’s own voice. I believe that when students volunteer, they feel empowered. Then, students can be inspired to go out and make a difference in their own community. Even though the problems of our country and world might seem daunting, it is important for youth to lead a new generation of problem solvers and thinkers. With new waves of leaders and activists, I believe students can work together to make a difference,” she says.
Zoe’s organization of choice? She has found a home away from home at her local Boys and Girls Club, where she has volunteered for the past year. She created a student writing program, referred to as Creative Corner, at the Sagamore Village clubhouse in Portland. Her Tuesday afternoons are spent helping kids with their stories and poems. She is also working with the director of the Boys and Girls Club to offer a story night once a month where the kids can invite their parents and read their written pieces coffee-house style.
“While sharing about our lives can be hard, my hope is that writing stories can provide kids a new way of fostering connections and learning about the differences of others,” she says.
Looking for volunteer opportunities in your own area? Volunteermatch.org might be a good place to start! You can narrow down opportunities based on type of service, location, and duration.