These past three weeks, I spend time in Puerto Rico volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club Llorens. Since this post is related to politics and feminism I decided to share my experiences on my blog. This is going to be very different from my previous posts. It won’t include my favorite places to shop or tourist spots to visit. This trip was for volunteering not for vacation (although I did hang out and travel on my time off and got a nice tan.) A few Piña Coladas on the beach never hurt anyone.
I decided to volunteer because after Hurricane Maria the island was devastated. As she is from Puerto Rico, my Abuela was so upset and depressed every time she watched the news. The U.S. government did very little to help its territory. Immediately after people were donating and volunteering, but they have most likely forgotten by now. But I haven’t forgotten. I knew I had to do something. I also wanted to do some soul searching so I decide to head to Puerto Rico to help my Abuela’s home country. I volunteered with an organization called IVHQ. I was a little skeptical about volunteering with them after I had read some negative reviews but my concerns were gone once I started volunteering. IVHQ connected me with an organization called Network Volunteers in Puerto Rico who then connected me with the Boys and Girls Club Llorens in Isla Verde.
Similarly to here in the United States, the Boys and Girls Club in Puerto Rico provides after school care for kids and teens, so their parents can work and have some form of day care. They also provide homework help, entertainment and games, and dinner as well. Those reading this are probably thinking how does playing games with kids help? I thought that too at first. When I decided to go on this trip I did not expect to change the world. It’s the small actions that go a long way. Without the Boys and Girls Club, these kids wouldn’t have homework help, dinner, and their parents would have to leave their jobs early. Many famous people such as athletes have even said they would be lost without they Boys and Girls Club. Even helping out with dinner or entertaining the kids while the staff does other tasks helped them out a lot.
I also realized that you always get out of an experience what you put into it. The club had a very relaxed vibe and didn’t always dictate tasks for me to do. So eventually I spoke up and asked if I could help kids with their homework. I ended up helping teens who were taking english classes and needed help with homework and projects, which was perfect for me. I even asked to plan a fashion show for the kids to participate in towards the end of my stay. I figured I would be able to apply my fashion skills to my volunteer experience.
The kids and staff got really into the fashion show. I made star decorations with the kids so they could be a part of as much of the production as possible. The staff also helped out with turning the space into a runway. I taught the kids how to do their best runway walk and told them to wear their and favorite outfits for the show. The kids were all so excited and really enjoyed the show, and I had tons of fun! They strutted their stuff down the runway to runway music while I took photos. At the end of the day if I got one kid interested in fashion or maybe boosted another’s confidence, I feel like I’ve done my job.
I really hope I made some kind of impact. I was so sad to leave the kids and I think they were sad to see me go as well. I wish I could have stayed longer (especially since it’s eighty degrees in Puerto Rico and forty degrees here in New York.) Overall this was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life and I am so glad I went. I hope that this has inspired some of you to volunteer. Even if its something small. You don’t have to go out and join the Peace Corps. You can volunteer at local organizations, shelters and soup kitchens, organize a clothing or food drive or even donate clothes, food or anything you don’t need anymore. You don’t have to save the world. If there is a cause you care about you can help. Even the smallest actions can make the biggest impact.