"Volunteering takes time, effort and patience. You have to want to do it, it cannot be forced."
Amber Lanita Wise, 21, of Charlotte, North Carolina, volunteers for underprivileged youth in her community.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Amber: I work with many children and youth in a specific community. The children in this community are living on the poverty line. More than half of the residents are renting, and most of them are receiving aid from social services. I volunteer during the summer at summer camps and some after school programs, teaching children what's important in life and how to get it.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Amber: Chemical Dependency Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Amber: Right now I am working on my most important project. It is called the Grier Heights annual back to school backpack drive. We have this event every year. The purpose of this event is to give back to the community, to make sure that every underprivileged youth in Grier Heights has the necessary resources to begin school, ready to learn and succeed.
What inspired you to get involved?
Amber: During the summer I observed the children. I noticed that these children needed much more than guidance; they needed help in school. How can one succeed without the correct resources?
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Amber: One day I volunteered, and I heard that every year they have a backpack drive, and I wanted to be involved.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Amber: The best thing about my experience is seeing children happy and healthy. Seeing their smiles is the best part. Also, knowing that I did my best so that the children are happy and ready to succeed.
What is/was the hardest part?
Amber: The hardest part is deciding what child gets what. If we do not raise enough money for the whole community, we would have to decide which child needs the supplies the most. That would be the hardest part.
What was the biggest surprise?
Amber: The biggest surprise was when Mental Health Association of Central Carolinas donated $100 to the Grier Heights back-to-school backpack drive. That was my first donation.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Amber: I have learned to be more patient with others and that this is a process. Events take time and organization.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Amber: The best advice that I could give to a beginner volunteer is, "Volunteering takes time, effort and patience. You have to want to do it, it cannot be forced."
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