Ramirez volunteers way to Silver Award

By: Menka Belgal Telegraph Correspondent
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Mackenzie Ramirez is a senior at Oak Ridge High School, and has been a Hands4Hope volunteer for around two years. This past year she put in over 55 hours of volunteer work for the organization, earning her a Silver Award. What are some of your favorite projects? Three of my favorite projects include mentoring at the Hope House, the Haunted House (of course) and the Food Bank Blitz. This year I am one of the volunteers who is helping decorate the haunted house. The theme this year is a haunted high school. Has volunteering for Hands4Hope changed your perspective on the less fortunate? Volunteering has most definitely changed my perspective on the less fortunate. I have always volunteered, but around the time I really started to get involved I was feeling sorry for myself because of a stress in my personal life. Volunteering helped me realize there are those out there who do not have the same life as me, and are in need of my help. However, these people have also in turn helped me learn more about myself as a person and grow as an individual. I realized I need them as much as they need me. What’s your favorite part of what you do? What I like most about what I do is the feeling after helping someone. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that I am helping someone else and making a positive change in his or her life. What are some of the most interesting things that have happened to you? A few interesting things that have happened to me include last year’s Haunted House. My friend and I felt very proud of ourselves after causing a group of five teenage guys to run out screaming. I also got involved in the Architectural program at my school after my counselor convinced me to try it out. In the past two years I submitted my house designs and achieved first place and honorable mention in the state fair. Finally, one of the most important things that has happened to me was becoming friends with the people on the Hands4Hope leadership team. I can honestly say that as a group we are all complete individuals that don’t seem like we have much in common at first glance. However, they have become some of my closest friends. We are completely honest and open with each other, and are always there for each other. I can even say that I have adopted a few of them as my siblings just because we have become so close. What are your favorite books? My three favorite books are Eragon, Beauty, and the Hunger Games. Do you have any favorite songs? My three favorite songs are Home (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) Little Talks, and Some Nights. Other than Hands4Hope, do you give back to the community? I also volunteer at Fat Kitty City which is a rescue for cats. I help volunteer at Run for Courage events, as well as help with summer art programs for little kids. What hobbies do you enjoy? My favorite hobbies include volleyball, soccer, art, reading and hanging out with my friends. Tell us about your family. My mom, dad, and my little sister Madison make up my immediate family. They are my closest friends and are always there for me. My mother is my role model and someone I hope to be like when I’m older. My father is always there to give me pep talks and help me get through difficult situations. Madison is the sweetest girl you will ever meet and the comic relief in my life. What are you most proud of? I am most proud of being able to balance my life. I take my schooling very seriously, however I still make sure I have time to spend with my family, hang out with my friends, and volunteer. I have discovered how to keep the stress out of my life and just live in the moment. What causes are you passionate about? I am very passionate about working with little kids, there is nothing better than seeing smiles come to their faces. Especially when they are doing arts and crafts, nothing lets them be in their element more than gluing sparkles and glitter to the volunteers’ faces. What is one thing about you people might be surprised to learn? People might be surprised to learn that I am actually more sensitive then I allow people to see. I put a wall up around myself because I am afraid of what people think and say about me. But, if I feel someone has been an honest and true friend to me, then they will stay my friend for the rest of my life.