Last Wednesday, I visited Belmont High School to observe our Guest Speakers PLUS ME program. It was my first time at a PLUS ME event and throughout the first few weeks of my internship, I had only discussed the tasks pertaining to my position as a community outreach intern. Up until that point, I had only heard about the organization’s goals and tasks, but never got to witness them.
As a former staff member of Belmont, I worked with A World Fit For Kids as a coach in their after school program. The scenery was familiar walking through the main building seeing the various murals featuring college and university logos, inspirational quotes, and famous activists. I felt like I was back home seeing all the smiles from the students and staff. As we were waiting to access the presentation room, an odd feeling fell over me. One that I had not felt since my first few days at A World Fit for Kids. “I’m nervous and I'm not even the one presenting,” I muttered to Richard. But why was I nervous? Now that I look back at this moment, I realize this was when PLUS ME was finally coming to life for me.
PLUS ME’s vision and mission resonated with me since I first heard about it. Now that I was at a school with Richard, I knew it was real. As I listened to Richard’s story, what struck me the most was how the students reacted. At the beginning, some of them were, unsurprisingly, not fully focused on the presentation. I could hear some discussing their day, others checking their phones, and a few pointing out how happy they were to be at the presentation because that meant they weren’t in class. However, as the presentation continued, phones were put away, conversations ended, and all eyes and ears were on Richard. Some laughed, others nodded their heads, but most were too focused to show any other nonverbal cue. In that moment, I realized that I was at the right place, with the right people, serving the right organization.
Entering PLUS ME’s retreat this past Saturday, I was nervous once again. This time, I didn’t tell anyone. As I mingled with the many amazing individuals who work selflessly to provide a light for the students we serve, I truly felt the passion, commitment, and realness of this team. The retreat brought together the bright minds of the many who support the organization and made me realize that even as an intern, I too will make a difference. As the evening progressed, I felt that I was no longer in the background, I was an active player in the forefront on this team.
Jose Navarijo is a senior at California State University, Northridge majoring in communications. He is serving as our community outreach intern for Fall 2017 and hopes to one day share his story with a group of students.