Published in the Dec. 21, 2016 – January 3, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Daniela Orozco

Daniela Orozco

Not having the mental nor physical strength to get up from my bed to face the day’s challenges, I was often filled with anguish and panic attacks. My eyes were eternally puffy from waking up from nightmares every half hour. I’d force myself to get up and ready for school, my body shaking, a nauseating feeling overcoming me. It was a good day if I got through it without crying. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depression by the age of 13. This was my daily life … Frankly, I pitied myself and often times thought, “Why am I even living, if my life is this miserable?” My life changed when I developed a mindset of sense of purpose.

No amount of medication or therapy will make your problems go away. You are the only person that can help yourself. I thought that if I couldn’t help myself, then at least I would help others. I started volunteering. I began feeding the homeless, organizing canned food drives, helping raise money for leukemia patients, and cut my Pocahontas-long hair (against my parents’ wishes) to donate to Locks of Love. I realized I had a passion for volunteering because the smallest act of kindness can impact someone’s life.


I did many years of volunteer work in my community. However, my favorite was when I had the opportunity to work with children. I began tutoring children of low income families and I absolutely love it. Some of these children only speak Spanish and feel comfortable with me because of the ability to communicate. A lot of the children’s parents don’t have the ability to help them with their homework, because they don’t understand the material. I see myself in these little boys and girls. I will be the first in my family to go to college. My parents couldn’t help me with my geometry homework. This gave me incentive to try twice as hard as my classmates. I would learn the material well and then be able to assist my younger brothers with their homework.

I believe volunteering my time and putting my heart into it is a way that I give my life a purpose. There are two types of people in this world: the dreamers and the realists. I’ll admit I’m a bit of both. Dreamers overuse Gandhi’s words when they restate, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Meanwhile, a realist would argue that one person’s will isn’t strong enough to accomplish this goal, or dare I say, “dream.” But as long as I can help one person, my sense of purpose will be satisfied. Just knowing I stopped someone’s hunger for the night, or led a child to develop an enthusiasm for learning; I move one step closer to completing my purpose.

The way I think of it is as follows: everyone is on this Earth for a reason. More than anyone, the youth of this community need to realize this. This generation is not doomed, regardless of what our elders claim. It is time to prove that we are the future. This Developmental Asset is essential in augmenting self esteem, compassion and love in a young person’s life. Volunteering gave me a joy I was missing while going through hardships. Even if I had the opportunity to erase all pain from my past, I wouldn’t, because it has made me who I am. As youth, I encourage you to get involved, volunteer, do one kind thing a day. Find one thing in your life that you love and don’t stop doing it.

Daniela Orozco is a 17-year-old senior at Live Oak High School. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering, babysitting, baking and dancing. She wrote this for Morgan Hill Life.