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The Foothill Dragon Press

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The Foothill Dragon Press

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Gaining valuable experience through community service


When it comes to facing the 75 hours of community service required for graduation, students often dread the idea of time spent doing something they don’t enjoy. However, some students are able to do what they love, or even find their interest, through community service. Here are some organizations that will quickly meet the minimum requirement, and will teach valuable skills that can’t be taught in a classroom.

Ventura County Medical Center

Junior Natasha Urban has been volunteering for the Ventura County Medical Center for two years, serving the pediatric oncology and hematology unit. Volunteers can work during the summer and applications come out during May.

Urban volunteers by stocking medicine cabinets and sanitizing equipment, but also by interacting with children affected by blood diseases and cancers. During family support nights, she looks after patients and their siblings.

“I love getting to meet the children and their families, and they’re just so appreciative and kind,” Urban said. “There was this one girl who was just so calm, and so peaceful, and she just had the greatest time, and it was nice to be able to help her have good memories.”

In addition to watching over patients, Urban also assists the nurses in helping them stay organized and lending a hand.

“I’ve definitely improved communication and organization, because everything in a hospital has to be put exactly in a certain place at the right time or else no one will find it,” Urban said.

Not only does volunteering give Urban a chance to improve skills integral to workplaces, but it gives her experience working in an environment she has an interest in.

“I’m looking forward to a career in medicine, and I think it’s a great opportunity students have now [to] be able to enrich themselves in the environment they want to pursue their career in,” Urban said. “I think it greatly improves my chances of going into the field I choose of medicine. […] Anyone who is interested in medicine at all should definitely look at volunteering at a hospital.”

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Urban has already met her community service requirement in a single summer, putting in around 75 hours.

“It’s great for volunteer service overall, especially if you’re at Foothill,” Urban said. “It’s just good to enrich yourself in the environment you will someday work in. […] I would recommend volunteering, to anyone who has the opportunity.”

Project Understanding

Senior Dominik Aylard began volunteered for Project Understanding during his sophomore year for the “Be the Change” project, which required 10 hours of community service. Project Understanding serves homeless and lower-class students who are in need of tutoring, allowing high school students to become a tutor for those in the elementary grade level.

Although Aylard said that he doesn’t have plans to become a teacher, he did say that tutoring was a fun learning experience.

“I was just going to get my community service done, but then I actually started enjoying. I learned that I like helping people learn,” Aylard said. “It’s kind of good teaching people and learning how to get that experience with helping some through a lesson, or helping someone with any kind of issue.”

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Aylard also finds that working with younger children has allowed him to gain more experience with communication with them.

“I like working with the kids, they’re actually kind of funny and they’re fun to work with,” Aylard said. “Say if I’m going to teach them a math lesson, I can add basketball into […] or if they’re into video games, I can add that kind of aspect to it.”

“I’ve never really had a connection with [my cousins], but after this, I’ve learned how to connect with a kid younger than me, […] and not only teach them math or history, but just kind of connect with them and have fun with them,” he added.

In addition to volunteering for Project Understanding, he also volunteers at Community Memorial Hospital, and has accumulated over 250 hours, meeting the 75 hours standard for community service at Foothill.

Volunteering for Project Understanding has given Aylard useful experience, and he recommends it to anyone interested.

“In the future, in instances in colleges when I have to help out my peers or other cases where I have to deal with younger students, then it’s going to become a very valuable experience that I have,” Aylard said. “I highly recommend volunteering for Project Understanding. Before I started, I thought I would never like dealing with kids or tutoring them, but […] I really enjoyed doing it.”

Guide Dogs of America

Chances are, you may have seen senior Gabi Paredes around campus with her golden-lab cross, Prince. Paredes is working with Guide Dogs for America to raise a dog from puppyhood for 18 months to be officially trained as a Seeing-Eye Dog.

Guide Dog Trainers are tasked with a heavy responsibility: training and caring for their dog 24/7.

Paredes finds it tough, but overall an enjoyable experience,

“The first few months were tough because I had to potty-train him and teach him ‘sit’ and ‘down’, and basic obedience. Now it’s a little bit harder because I have to take him out and socialize him,” Paredes said. “He’s young, and gets distracted really easily, but, it’s been a really good experience.”


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In addition to managing Prince, Paredes is also responsible for meetings, as well as a six-week obedience course.

“It teaches you responsibility and taking care of another life,” Paredes said. “It’s almost like having a toddler, you have to watch them, and you can’t leave them alone outside, because they’ll get into stuff.”

Overall, the Guide Dog Trainer spends a significant amount of time with their dog.

“We get three and a half hours per week, because that’s how long they think we work with the dog,” Paredes said. “Though I actually work with him more than three and a half hours per week. I work for more like three and a half hours per day.”

Over an 18 month period, guide-dog trainers receive a minimum of 250 hours for their diligence.

“After the first 18 months that we foster them and train them, they go for formal training,” Paredes said. “If they do pass their formal training, they graduate, they get assigned to a blind person, and then at graduation, you go and see your dog after six months.”

Raising Prince has taught Paredes many things, including time-management skills and working with animals.

“I think it’s helped a lot, especially if you want to [become] a veterinarian, it’ll help you become comfortable with the animals,” Paredes said. “Time management is kind of a big thing with guide dogs, short term and long term, and that could be good for any career.”

Credit: Gabrialla Cockerell/The Foothill Dragon Press

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Gaining valuable experience through community service