"We must be willing to care."
Ronnie Kevin Paige, now 16, of Baltimore, Maryland, visits juvenile offenders every week to talk and sing with them in order to help them learn how to make positive choices.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Ronnie: I am a volunteer at the Department of Juvenile Justice Center. I do whatever is needed; however, most of what I do is sing and speak to young offenders. What I try to do is to help them learn how to make positive choices in their life.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Ronnie: Department of Juvenile Justice Center, Baltimore, Maryland.
What inspired you to get involved?
Ronnie: I have a desire to see young men, especially African Americans, better their lives because I can identify with them. A lot of what has happened in their lives has made them victims within themselves.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Ronnie: My mother started having me visit, and now I go every week. We have been going for three years now.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Ronnie: The best thing is knowing that I am making a difference in their lives. I see them changing and that makes me feel good. On the first day, they come in mean, but by the third week they begin to trust us and even hug us when we leave.
What is/was the hardest part?
Ronnie: It is just heartbreaking that so many children need help. It is sometimes overwhelming because as soon as you help someone else, a whole new group comes in. Still, I love to see the change that takes place in their lives.
What was the biggest surprise?
Ronnie: How long I have been doing this.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Ronnie: That people are people everywhere. Everybody needs help in one form or another. We must be willing to care. Also, people cannot always pay you for helping them. The people that need the most help are the people who can't pay. God will repay me if he wants to. If not I have helped to change the world a little bit more.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Ronnie: Find something that you feel passionate about and do it, just do it. We all reap what we sow, and by helping others, someone will help you.
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