Our August Project Leader Spotlight belongs to long-time HandsOn Broward volunteer and Project Leader, Natalie Martinez. Chances are, if you have been to a HandsOn Broward managed volunteer project, you have seen 17-year-old Natalie in action.
“The more I became aware of issues that face the community through personal accounts and news channels, the more motivated I became to get involved in the community,” Natalie said.
And she has become involved in the community in a variety of ways. Since she began volunteering with HandsOn Broward, Natalie has participated in the Children’s Services Council’s Back to School Community Extravaganza, Family Volunteer Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, 9/11 Day of Service, Be a Joy Maker, and much more. She has also taken on the role of a Project Leader at Kids Care Club, Tomorrow’s Rainbow, and Greater Horizons Academy.
Natalie was happy to take the step from volunteer to Project Leader and recommends other volunteers to do the same. “If you are considering becoming a Project leader, I highly recommend that you do. Not only will you gain new experiences, but you will also learn practical life and leadership skills that are crucial when entering the workplace and beyond,” she said.
As a youth volunteer, Natalie has also participated in many of our youth programs, from our annual Summer Service Camp, to Youth Action Corps, our leadership development program for teens. After experiencing them as a participant, this year Natalie took on a leadership role with both of these programs, acting as a co-facilitator.
“The unique aspect of my volunteering experience has been going from a volunteer to a project leader who also co-facilitates certain programs and events, such as the Summer Service Camp and Youth Action Corps,” Natalie said.
In 2011, when Natalie was just 14 years old, she began volunteering at the HandsOn Broward office over the summer. She assisted staff with clerical work, sorting t-shirts and donations, and making reminder phone calls to volunteers. She has volunteered with us every summer since, and has truly become part of the HandsOn Broward work family. In the past few years, she has started taking on more responsibilities in the office as well. She isn’t just filing and sorting – she is also participating in conference calls, staff meetings, answering the phones, and planning and leading projects and programs.
Natalie has helped her community through volunteerism time and time again, but she also believes that the experiences have helped her in return. “Volunteering has greatly impacted my personal and professional goals by helping me decide what profession to pursue, which includes representing citizens along with their views,” she said. “Volunteering has also given me many invaluable opportunities that have helped shape me into the person I have become today.”
Natalie was selected as the Youth Volunteer of the Year at the 2012 Heart of the Community Awards, and has over 650 recorded service hours with HandsOn Broward. She is also the recipient of The President’s Volunteer Service Award. Natalie is dual-enrolled at Broward Virtual School and Broward College.
When asked to sum up her overall volunteer experience, Natalie said, “One of my favorite quotes that sums up how I personally feel about volunteering is by former President of the United States Ronald Reagan when he states that ‘The work of volunteer groups throughout our country represents the very heart and soul of America. They have helped make this the most compassionate, generous, and humane society that ever existed on the face of this earth.’”
Natalie, thank you for your continuous compassion and generosity over the years! We hope other volunteers are inspired by your motivation to make a positive impact in your community.