By Amanda Hoffman
This month’s volunteer spotlight belongs to Justis Harrilal, who has volunteered hundreds of hours with HandsOn Broward’s DIY (Do It Yourself) volunteering program and Feeding South Florida. Although he’s only a junior in high school, Justis is wise beyond his years–the motto that he carries with him in life and volunteering is: “just because someone else has not defined a need- it doesn’t mean that the need doesn’t exist.”
The goal of the DIY Program is to allow people to complete service projects and make a difference from “the comfort of their own home.” The best features of DIY volunteering are its flexibility—participants are given 30 days to complete a project—and its ability to encourage group participation from friends and family. Justis also points out the program’s benefits for those who have limited transportation. “The other thing that I enjoy most about DIY is that it’s open to all ages- this is important because it’s challenging to find volunteer opportunities for age groups under 16.”
Right now, Justis is working on college applications, resume building and taking on new volunteer projects. But in the future, he plans to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida or to attend the University of Southern California Cinematic Arts School. Eventually, he wants to become a storyboard artist.
You won’t find Justis sleeping in on Saturday mornings, or lounging on the couch during the summer. Instead, he volunteers at Feeding South Florida, “the food distribution center for over 300 emergency food programs in Broward, Miami Dade and Palm Beach County.”
Feeding South Florida is especially important to Justis because, “it’s difficult for me to imagine that almost a million families in South Florida are suffering with the choice of feeding their families or paying their rent. I can’t imagine that not having food is actually an option- but it’s a scary reality for many families. That’s why I go there every Saturday morning to do my part in helping these families. It’s only a few hours a week, but it makes me more aware of the needs that exist in our community.”
For new volunteers, Justis offers up this advice: “I recommend that new volunteers find projects that they’re passionate about. If you can’t find a project- then find a group of people with similar interests and create your own project to serve your community.”
Good luck with your plans, Justis, and thank you for all that you do!