December’s Volunteer Spotlight belongs to 17-year-old volunteer Anastasia White. Anastasia began volunteering with HandsOn Broward in July 2011 because she needed community service hours for school – but she has long surpassed her 40-hour requirement and hasn’t stopped yet. In fact, Anastasia is more than just a HandsOn Broward volunteer; she is a Project Leader.
Anastasia has volunteered with a wide variety of nonprofit agencies all over Broward County – Children’s Services Council, Ronald McDonald House, Young at Art Museum, Markham Park, FRIENDS Ranch, Kids Ecology Corps, and more. But it was when she began volunteering at HAPPI Farm that she realized how much an individual can gain from volunteering. “Volunteering with HandsOn Broward has given me the opportunity to volunteer at projects that fit my interests. For example, I absolutely love volunteering at HAPPI Farm because I love animals. I was able to get hands-on with animals, and it gave me the experience I need before I eventually become a Veterinarian. Volunteering has impacted my personal and professional goals by making me realize what my purpose in life [is], and what I really like to do. And that is helping people,” she said.
In April 2013, Anastasia decided she wanted to take her volunteering to the next level and signed up for a Project Leader Training. “I wanted to become a Project Leader because I wanted to be more assertive, and I wanted to prove to myself that I can do anything if I set my mind to it. I also wanted to put my newfound motivation to the test by becoming the leader I know I can be,” she said.
After completing her Project Leader Training, Anastasia created her own service project with Miramar Senior Center. She worked with the Center directly to setup the schedule, project ideas, and recruited other high school students to come out and volunteer on Fridays during the summer. Anastasia saw a lack of projects in her area for her age group and wanted to remedy the situation. She was also interested in creating bonds between youth volunteers and senior citizens. “I created the program because I wanted a project in my area where youth can volunteer. Another motive I had was to [create] a program where youth and the elderly can build companionship,” she said.
Currently, Anastasia is the Project Leader at the Miramar Community Garden. On the third Saturday of each month, she assists with sign-in and managing volunteers, as well as working on gardening tasks. “At the Miramar Community Garden we harvest crops and make sure that the garden is in order. Sometimes the volunteers take some of the crops home and other times we let people from the neighborhood come to the garden and take what we harvest. It’s by far the best place to get organic and free vegetables,” she said.
When asked what advice Anastasia would give to new volunteers, she said “have fun, be active, and love what you do.” And she also recommends volunteers go through the Project Leader Training and create and lead their own projects. “I recommend becoming a Project Leader because it’s a great way for you to gain confidence and assertiveness. Plus, it’s rewarding and builds character,” she said.
If you’re inspired by Anastasia and interested in becoming a Project Leader, please email Melissa at Melissa@handsonbroward.org.
Anastasia said, “Being with HandsOn Broward has given me experiences that I will never forget. I thank HandsOn Broward for all the great memories.” Thank you, Anastasia, for all the good you do in our community!