Students lend hand to community
Spring break is popularly known as a time when college students sleep in and party but many students at UH are finding volunteering just as rewarding.
Houston and its surrounding areas have provided many opportunities for students to help the community with many organizations and businesses in need of volunteers.
“I volunteer at the food pantry in Stafford,” hotel and restaurant management junior Eric Wu said. “I started volunteering there a few years ago, and I try to help out as much as I can. Most of my time during the semester is spent on school, so spring break is a good time to go for a day and help out.”
Wu said he likes the opportunity to help out at the pantry, and it’s something he does with his family. Although he takes time to volunteer, he also enjoys the break by hanging out with friends.
“I still have fun with my friends, and I am able to do things,” he said. “I just think it’s important to find the time to give back to the community.”
Some students take time to volunteer with non-profit organizations that are better known, like UNICEF.
Second-year College of Pharmacy grad student Amin Esmaily said he participated in UNICEF at UH’s annual AIDS walk in Sam Houston Park.
“The AIDS Walk is an event that I’ve participated in for the past few years,” Esmaily said. “For me, attending the walk is of great importance because it is one of the biggest opportunities to help raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. Attending this event is a display of my support for raising awareness of the epidemic and bringing an end to it once and for all.”
Esmaily also said he decided to participate in the walk because of UH’s UNICEF chapter’s reputation as a successful non-profit organization.
“I still keep in contact with officers of UNICEF at UH because UNICEF has been an organization I’ve been a part of for the past 5 years, and I strongly believe in the work that they do and what they stand for,” he said. “UNICEF at UH has done a phenomenal job this year, and I know that it will continue to reach great heights in the years to come.”
Esmaily said he enjoys having the opportunity to give back to the community during the break.
“Spring break is a great opportunity for students to go out and give back to the community,” he said. “Just a few hours out of the spring break holiday can really make a difference in someone’s life. Many times, we take for granted all the opportunities and resources that we have and forget that there are those out there who may not be as fortunate as us. Volunteering and being active in the community helps bring that to light.”
First-time volunteers like education senior Samantha Valadez found doing community service during spring break to be a rewarding experience.
Valadez volunteered at the Spanish Meadows Nursing Home in Katy.
“Well, I did my fair share of partying too,” she said. “I have never volunteered before. I’ve always been busy with work, school and friends, but I had some spare time this break, so I thought I would try and give back.”
Valadez said that volunteering provided her with a fun experience and a much-needed change from her usual spring break routine.
“It was a lot of fun. The seniors there have a good spirit and that makes it easier. We got to play games with them and have long talks. I’m glad I took the time to volunteer this break instead of just hanging out with friends and working.”