University of Hawaii at Manoa, Sophomore
"When I first heard of the YMCA, I thought they were just about gym memberships. I grew up in the town of Kalihi, where I would pass by the Kalihi Y and see their gym equipments in the second level and think to myself, “I’m never going to be involved with this organization, no..” It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I heard something about the Y that had caught my attention. The YMCA College Camp (YCC)! I signed up for this program and got to be one of the lucky thirtysix upcoming juniors who got to be part of this program. This was the beginning of my journey with the Y.
The YMCA College Camp taught me so many things and helped me grow as an individual, so when I heard that they were looking for more mentors for the YCC this year, I volunteered myself. I wanted to volunteer to give back everything that the Y has been helping me with.
I’ve volunteered at few places before but I think the Y was the easiest to volunteer to. When I started off at the Y as a YCC participant back in 2012, I already felt welcomed by everyone. At the Y, everyone gets treated fairly and they don’t ever make you feel left out. What I love the most about volunteering for the Y is knowing that you're making impacts in other people’s lives and knowing that you’re appreciated for the time you dedicate with them.
As a mentor of the YCC, I’ve witnessed how these upcoming juniors, who come from different islands, get to know each other and become very close with everyone in just one week! I mean, most of them didn’t even want camp to end, most of them wished it was longer! And my favorite part about being a mentor would be the close relationships I’ve made with my mentees, to the point I actually saw some of them as the younger Reinalie, or as my younger siblings.
I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a mentor for the YCC and I can’t wait to be more involved with the other programs under the Y. The YMCA has played such a big part in helping me grow as an individual. The Y is one of the big reasons why I am the Reinalie I am now. They helped build selfconfidence in myself and became one of my support system. I think this is one of the best things about the Y, when volunteers come in to help out but the Y also tries to help their volunteers out at the same time as well.
Without the Y, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now. From something I thought I would never be a part of, to something I now call my second Family, the YMCA. "
My relationship with the Y began when I participated as a Y College Camp camper back in 2012. From then on, the Y impacted me greatly. The Y College Camp taught me to believe in myself and that anything is possible for everyone regardless of who they are or where they come from.
After graduating from high school, I became more involved with the Y by participating in numerous events such as sharing my story with the Kalihi Y and attending the Y Fundraising Luncheon. Finally, at the end of my freshman year of college, I was given the opportunity to become a mentor for the Y College Camp. Without hesitation, I volunteered and applied to be a mentor because I wanted to give back to the organization that has given so much to me.
The Y College Camp presented me with numerous opportunities. Volunteering as a mentor was a life changing experience from which I have learned many lessons and have made many memories that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. Going back to the first day of Y College Camp, I had the mentality that as a mentor, my mentees needed my help to achieve the goal of the program. However, a few days passed and I realized that this program is not only for the high school students but also for myself. Within the span of one week, I became a stronger person as I was challenged in every way possible, and my heart was deeply touched as I saw my mentees grow into confident young adults. Therefore, when asked to mentor once more for another group of students a week after the first camp, I did not hesitate to say yes.
Overall, the Y is not just an organization that seeks to provide its patrons with services, but it is a home that seeks to provide people with hope and second chances. The Y is a place where everyone is equal and welcomed. A volunteer or not, the Y is a home to me and this organization provides something very special that no other organization I have ever been part of will have.
Jheanelle Kae Garvida
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Minors: Filipino and History