Making a change


photo by Ahilyn Aguilar

While volunteering at A New Beginning Pet Rescue Center, junior Charlene Nguyen enjoys placing “Handsome” in his crate at the PetSmart store. Nguyen was responsible for the animal’s needs and made sure people knew the right information about him.

For most teenagers, weekends mean parties, sports and sleep. For junior Charlene Nguyen, however, weekends mean new volunteering opportunities. As her hobby, Nguyen spends every weekend participating in non-profit organizations, gaining knowledge and learning qualities that are essential for her future.

Nguyen started her passion for helping others when she was seven years old, finding a limping kitten on the side of the road. After feeding, washing and taking the animal to a veterinarian, Nguyen learned that her decision of helping the cat saved its life.

“The injury could’ve gotten worse over time if not treated,” Nguyen said. “That was the moment when I realized how my help could change someone’s life.”

From that moment on, Nguyen knew that she wanted to make an impact on society by helping those in need. Encouraged by her mom, Nguyen participated in Housing Outreach Prevention Education (HOPE), an organization that focuses on helping the homeless by providing them with food.

“Charlene has always had the desire to help people; even if it’s a tiny problem, she’ll go out of her way to offer help to the ones that need it,” Mary Nguyen said.

As a requirement to graduate from high school, every student needs to complete their community service hours; however, this is not Nguyen’s main reason for volunteering. She volunteers in order to feel accomplished and make others feel happy. This rewards her by teaching her lifelong skills throughout her volunteering experiences.

“Volunteering prepares you by teaching life skills such as teamwork. It also helps you understand that everything you do makes an impact on others,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen volunteers at different organization including Feeding Children Everywhere and A New Beginning Pet Rescue Center. NBPR is an organization that rescues local homeless cats and dogs. She spends most of her weekends here, and as well as many others, NBPR teaches its volunteers qualities such as teamwork and responsibility.

“Volunteers take care of dogs and cats and provide information to people who are interested in fostering or adopting,” sponsor of A New Beginning Pet Rescue Center Abby Blum said.

Nguyen not only works in her local community, but also strives to help communities internationally by participating in the Feeding Children Everywhere organization where she packages meals that are shipped to children in need all over the world.

In addition to participating, volunteers are constantly interacting with people. Therefore, having good communication skills is a must. Every volunteer must also be inspired to help others.

“Volunteers need to be patient, perseverant, hardworking and dedicated. They must have the motivation to help others,” fellow pet rescue volunteer Hailey Griffin said.

In addition to learning new skills and qualities from multiple volunteering activities, Nguyen also gets to think about her future career path. For Nguyen, HOPE and NBPR gave her the opportunity to consider a possible career in medicine.

“Becoming a doctor means that you have the responsibility of helping people out and completely changing their lives,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen hopes to become a family doctor in order to help others and give them a new opportunity to improve their life through medicine.