Volunteer Highlight: Sanjana

Last updated: April 15, 2019, at 2:09 p.m. PT

Originally published: April 20, 2017, at 2:59 p.m. PT

The word “leadership” used to terrify Sanjana. She described herself as shy, always taking a seat in the back row and avoiding eye contact with the teacher. But once she began volunteering with the Teen Leadership Board at her Y, Sanjana started to come out of her shell. She grew her confidence and became more comfortable speaking in public. After four years as a teen volunteer, Sanjana says she’s now a different person.

“I have become so much more confident than I ever expected,” Sanjana says. “In a society where teenagers are constantly told ‘you’re just a kid’ and ‘you don’t understand,’ volunteering with the Teen Leadership Board offered me a place to voice my opinions and contribute ideas in an atmosphere where they are actually heard and taken into account.”

Her work with the leadership board never felt like a task because of the reward she got from giving back, that volunteering simply feels good. “Seeing so many kids’ day become better at a community festival or when the food bank was shocked at the amount of food we collected, it’s an incredible feeling organizing these events that result in such positivity.”

Now a freshman at the University of Washington, Sanjana’s Y volunteer experience has inspired her to continue giving back to community. She hopes to work at the Y this summer and volunteers at events whenever she has a break from school.

I’ve learned that there is so much in the world that can be done to help others,” Sanjana shares. “There is always something we can do to brighten up another person’s day. The Y definitely helped me and my peers become more aware of our greater community.”