This month’s Project Leader Spotlight belongs to one of our newest Project Leaders, Nicolas Ulloa. Nico, now 14, began volunteering with HandsOn Broward in 2012. “I first heard about HandsOn Broward at a convention for youth volunteering in 6th grade. In middle school I was required to collect community hours, something I’d never dealt with before, so I looked everywhere and working with HandsOn Broward was an amazing option,” he said.
Since November 2012, Nico has been attending the monthly project Movies, Muffins & Beyond at the Ronald McDonald House, formerly led by Youth Project Leader Jonathan Howard. In December, when Jonathan decided to begin leading a new HandsOn Broward project, Nico was the perfect person to step in and take over as Project Leader. He was trained as a Project Leader in December, and has been leading the project monthly since January.
“The main reason why I’ve become a Project Leader is because the opportunity was handed to me by the previous leader, Jonathan Howard. I’d been volunteering every month for the past two and a half years at Movies, Muffins & Beyond and had become close with the Howard family. He asked me to take the reigns on the project and I gratefully accepted,” Nico said.
Nico is involved in other volunteer efforts outside of HandsOn Broward as well. “At first I did community service for hours for my school, but I soon came to love doing it. Now I’m running a project with HandsOn Broward, and one with Habitat for Humanity, as well as other projects within my school,” he said. “As of right now I lead Movies, Muffins & Beyond with HandsOn Broward and co-lead a “Lunches for Volunteers” project with my sister. I’m also trying to set-up a “Video Games for Charity” project at my school.”
Nico’s learned the best way for him to get the most enjoyable and meaningful experience out of volunteering is to combine it with things he is interested in. “As I’ve come to love volunteering, I’ve tried to combine the things I love with it,” he said. “Whether it be fundraising or rallying, I believe service that’s fun is more effective than service that’s not, therefore I’ve tried to combine things I like with volunteer opportunities, just like the Anime Club I created at school.”
When asked whether or not he recommends volunteers should take the leap to become a Project Leader, Nico said, “I’d recommend being a Project Leader to anyone because it makes you exactly that — a leader. I believe leading is always better than following. It is extremely rewarding to know that you’re doing something no one else is doing and that it’s helping the community.”
Nico also has some advice for new volunteers when it comes to selecting volunteer projects. “Don’t just grab quantity over quality. Find a couple of projects you like and are meaningful and stick to them.”
Thank you, Nico, for all of the meaningful things you do in our community! We hope other volunteers and Project Leaders are inspired by the impact he has in Broward County.