portraits of the jersey shore young boys and girls club volunteer

young boys and girls club volunteer

“My name is Zenia, and I am a junior in college, studying to be a marine biologist. When I was growing up, I loved the Little Mermaid. Then in 5th grade, I was introduced to biology, and l was like, ‘Oh, this is so cool!’ And I just gravitated to the sea life part of biology. I don’t care what I do after I graduate, as long as I am using my degree to help the planet.

“I also volunteer at a local Boys and Girls Club. I have been going there since I was 9, and I love being there. They are local neighborhood clubs, basically an after school and summer program. There are a lot of kids that come from troubled homes or are hanging out with the wrong crowd, so the Boys and Girls Club can be a better option for them. You definitely see kids who have trouble at school or at home turn around because of this club’s influence on them.

“I am a very weird person, I guess you can say. Growing up people can ridicule you for being different, and you feel this big pressure to change to be more like the cool, popular kids. One of the counselors at the Boys and Girls Club- her name is Leigh- she totally understood me. She helped me realize that I didn’t have to change for other people. She helped me to see that some of these kids may not be my true friends, and to stay true to who I was. So she and the other counselors helped me to be more confident in who I am, and to embrace my weirdness. That meant so much to me. I stuck by Leigh’s side all the time while I was there.

“The counselors that were there, they definitely influenced me and helped me to be the person I am today. So now I give back to my community, and help the kids there have the same experience I did, except now I am the volunteer. It feels really good to be there for the kids now, like the volunteers were there for my when I was a kid.”

 — at Gateway National Park, Sandy Hook.

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