By: Emily Vo

Everett, WA

When I first started with the Action Team in Everett, I was honestly just the typical student who was searching for volunteer hours to put on my college applications. I wasn’t really motivated to help others at all. I was also very shy and rarely contributed to any type of discussion.

However, once I had joined the Action Team and began getting involved in activities, I started to fall in love with volunteering. The Action Team has helped me grow as a person.  

It started with our first activity we did — sorting food at the food bank. At the time, I was skeptical of how sorting food would be worth my time. But as we eased into work, I found it fun, especially working with the rest of the team, but also rewarding.  I felt I was opening myself more to both the team and my community.

Along the way, I also met an influential young man who was a former Action Team member. He helped inspire me to push my boundaries. He was very active, fearless even, in terms of voicing his opinions and trying new things. I found those qualities admirable.

With his encouragement I, too, began taking up as many volunteer projects as I could. He inspired me to push myself to be more vocal and become an integral part of the team.

Despite being a part of the Action Team for only two years, it has greatly impacted my life. It allowed the inner leader in me to wake up for the first time.

Not only did I learn valuable leadership skills, but I learned mediation techniques at our monthly meetings that led me to become more flexible and open minded. I applied these not just to my volunteer activities, but to school and personal life.

I also learned that through compassion, I can help bring a smile to the faces of others. That’s something  that brightens my day more than any reward.

As I graduate this June and continue my life’s journey, I want to see more smiles, everywhere I go. I want to share my enthusiasm to help motivate individuals the way I was motivated by my peers. I’d like to inspire people like the old me because the more we work together, the more we can make a difference.