June 22, 2015
Preparing plates, Karla Moreno, freshman at Jersey Village High School, contributes to Impact Houston alongside Karla Gomez, freshman. (Photo by Damaris De León, Jersey Village HS)
June 22, 2015—Light chatter fills the room as young students distribute food to those homeless in inner-city Houston. After three hours of assisting in the kitchen, hearing individuals share personal struggles at Impact Houston, and reflecting on the weeks behind them, Jersey Village High School students shared a meal with those that receive help at the Impact Houston campus.
In March, PACE Plus students at Jersey Village High School embarked on a 12-week-long journey with guidance from Ambassadors of Compassion, an interactive leadership program that teaches adolescents about critical life principles—such as labor, influence, forgiveness and experiences. Seeing as the class is designed to help students transition from middle school to high school and build skills that will assist them in future transitions to career, college, adulthood and independence, the program seemed to complement the goals of class.
“The goal was to become an ambassador of compassion, which is someone who wants to see a better world around them,” Lisa McNeil, Jersey Village academic achievement specialist, said.
Toward the end of the journey on May 13, 20 freshmen traveled to Impact Houston in hopes of reflecting on what they had learned alongside their peers the previous weeks.
“We chose to participate to learn more about life itself and how difficult it can be,” Alex Young-Boldon, freshman, said.
At the beginning of the journey, students agreed to be open-minded and willing to embrace their surroundings in order to receive the greatest outcome in return.
“The purpose of the program was for them to discover more about themselves and others in order to serve the community and take responsibility for their own life. To understand and apply the acronym LIFE (labor, influence, forgiveness and experiences) to their own lives in order to learn more about themselves and others and where they can make a difference in the world. It was achieved at different levels for each participant,” McNeil said.
Several students have encountered people in life who battle with addiction, making the experience even more personal.
“We met a lot people who ended up homeless for all sorts of reasons. I’ve learned that the littlest things can ruin your life in the blink of an eye, and that you have to make smart choices to make sure you don’t end up alone and without a home,” Young-Boldon said.
Despite harsh realizations, all 20 students left with a fresh mindset and new goals.
“It taught us to work hard and never give up, because everything just gets harder in life so you have to keep trying no matter what. I feel that the process provided us all with a lot of knowledge on what doing the right thing really is,” Young-Boldon said.
Dayana Meyzen, freshman, poses with AOC supervisor Katie Kaisinger, three-time world championship boxer Reggie Johnson, and world's strongest man Dennis Rodgers at the program's closing ceremony. (Photo by Damaris De León, Jersey Village HS)