Written by Jhana Williams, Events Intern for the YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish
The experiences I have been through play a part in my hopes, dreams, and who I am as a young woman today. I am currently working a paid summer internship with the YWCA. The learning process for this position – my first paid job – began even before my first day with the YWCA. I made sure I created a well-written resume, cover letter and references, and I practiced, practiced, practiced interviewing for the position. I needed to be prepared and did not want to give up! How did I recieve a chance to be an Intern? From the YWCA GirlsFirst Program. This program helps young ladies of color like me to develop leadership and grow our confidence, skills development. I got the position I wanted, which is why I am here as the YWCA events intern in downtown Seattle.
Now how am I contributing to my future? That is another story. It goes back to an afterschool activity I joined during the school year called Harambee ‘CryOut’! A non-profit organization, ‘CryOut’ uses music, dance, arts and workshops to empower youth to become leaders. In mid-fall, the group’s mentors mentioned a volunteer trip to Ghana, Africa, to help village youth by improving their education. They said only one girl would be eligible to go. I repeat, one girl! They offered to pay for everything, except vaccinations and a passport. I couldn’t believe it! I automatically thought: I have to do this! A once-in-a-lifetime trip, calling for me to go!
I love helping others naturally on my own, and I just knew this would give me the chance to make a difference on a much bigger level. After submitting an essay, I was chosen to go on the trip! My family was extremely nervous but also proud of me as well. “I knew you were going to be chosen, I just knew it!” said my mom.
My trip to Ghana was only a week long. But, that’s all it took.
The trip made me see the world in a different view than ever before. Here in the U.S. we have plenty of resources. Maybe that’s why it is so easy to overlook poverty. In Ghana, I noticed there are people who are poor, yet they are still content. Why? Because there are a variety of natural resources available. Families are able to make their own huts, which is shelter. Water wells provide water, and food grows on trees or in the ground. There is also a nurse in the village. Seems so little compared to what we have as Americans, but I’ve realized that’s all you honestly need to survive. Shelter, food, water, medical and you can’t forget love. Love from the people who are important to your life.
Then you look at homeless people in America. What automatically comes to your mind is someone on the side of the street, asking for spare change. You might also picture a man or a woman under a bridge with one blanket. Many of us do wonder: who will help them? How it works here is either you somehow get into a program that shelters you, and takes care of you so you can start your life again or you’re on your own. It’s illegal to make a hut in open land. The U.S. doesn’t have water wells for everyone’s use, we have water systems. And when you need to eat, it is all in a grocery store with a price tag. There are not many options to live life free like the people I met in villages of Ghana. The U.S. is more developed and modern, which means money is critical.
Those of us who have a business, organization, or have a career, receiving income, have a lifestyle that probably includes way more than the basics to survive. I now see that instead of putting your extra money toward luxuries, invest your money into something useful, like organizations that provide to those who need a home—which you and I already have. Even if you don’t have money to give, you can spend time getting involved in a community and spread awareness instead of spending time treating yourself. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with paying attention to ourselves, at the same time, nothing is absolutely wrong with thinking of others, too. Something to think about.
So, how do we start is the question. How can we make a difference on our own time to those who are homeless? (Especially with how busy our schedules can be.) Firesteel is a great way to begin. Firesteel gives the opportunity for you to give your own voice on social change. This website was created for you, so take advantage of what Firesteel has to offer. You can share any story you feel deserves to be heard, like I did, or, you can stay connected and keep updated with upcoming events. There are various ways to be part of what Firesteel does. Everyone can raise their voice to help create a better future.
As a 15-year-old girl, I feel so proud and lucky for how far I have come. I personally always had faith in helping others. I am motivated to keep moving forward. Inspiration got me to reach out and help those around me here at home, then to helping people younger than me in a whole other country, to now working for an organization with an emphasis on empowering people, specifically women. I am going to reach my biggest dream, which is connecting with others and being a helping hand.