A Helping Hand

The different volunteering clubs at Stuyvesant and what they do.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

From a young age, we are taught to help others. But as schoolwork, tests, and quizzes run our everyday lives, it becomes easy to forget these virtues. However, volunteering clubs help bring back these ideas and ingrain them in our busy lives.

As one of Stuyvesant’s largest organizations, ARISTA provides tutoring services by pairing upperclassmen with underclassmen. In addition to tutoring, ARISTA is a full-fledged volunteering organization in which members work on many events both at and outside of Stuyvesant. These aspects of ARISTA expand the number of requirements to join. “ARISTA is Stuyvesant’s honor society. What that means is that, in addition to the events and service part of it, we are also about academic excellence [...],” senior and ARISTA President Julia Arancio explained.

There are a variety of projects that ARISTA works on, from organizing parent-teacher conferences to lending a hand in soup kitchens, but they all have the common goal of serving the community. This aligns with the pillars of ARISTA: service, leadership, scholarship, and character. “We are interested in helping our community because that’s a level of being an excellent student,” Arancio said.

Though volunteering is a way to contribute to the community, many students don’t feel the need to help out, whether it is because of time management or indifference toward helping others. However, volunteering is a way to be involved instead of being a passive member of a community. “I think that one of the ways you can measure a person’s success [...] is the kind of impact that they have on their community,” Arancio said. “I think it’s important for people to be engaged in the world around them.”

Though the core values of ARISTA are similar to the National Honor Society (NHS), ARISTA is not a part of it. “We were always on a trimester system. We used to be part of [NHS], so that was a reminiscence of that,” Arancio said. “In recent years we’ve become our own organization and become Stuyvesant-specific.”

Where ARISTA is not affiliated with NHS, Key Club is part of a national organization that spans through many schools. Senior and Key Club President Jenna Foo said, “Stuyvesant Key Club is one of the thousands of Key Clubs from 38 countries over the world that make up Key Club International.” However, despite being part of a national organization, Stuyvesant Key Club has its own goals. “Each year, we strive to increase our service hour and fundraising goals as well. This year, our goal was 8,000 service hours and $10,000, but next year, it will probably be higher,” Foo explained.

Key Club hosts many events, from board game fundraisers to mural repainting. Foo explained that many of these events are for important causes. “Key Clubbers can attend our monthly fundraisers, which we hold to raise awareness about important causes, such as One Tree Planted, Comfort Cases, and the Pediatric Lyme Disease Foundation,” she said.

Key Club is focused more on events and fundraisers that involve different aspects of volunteering. “I think it's amazing that ordinary high schoolers have the ability to make change and learn the skills necessary to run fundraisers for such important charities,” Foo said.

Being a part of a volunteering organization can give rare opportunities for its members. Foo said, “I think that this ability to branch out of your school and to engage with people from so many different places is something that makes Key Club truly unique.” For her, Key Club is a way to discover things about herself as well. “I [was never] confident that I could be the type of person who could lead, but volunteering as part of Key Club has taught me that there are qualities about myself that I've still yet to discover,” she said.

Where ARISTA and Key Club participate in a variety of activities and events, the Homeless Coalition focuses on a pressing issue in New York City. The club’s goal, as evident by their name, is to help the homeless in the city. One way they reach out is by volunteering at various organizations, such as soup kitchens, that help the homeless. Club members also take in-school initiatives to contribute to their cause. “We had our annual run in the fall which was partnered with this organization called Back on My Feet,” senior and Homeless Coalition Co-President Sasha Spajic described. “[The organization helps] people who used to be homeless [...] get back on their feet. It’s more of a support system.”

While volunteering at various organizations, members form connections with the homeless. “We do a lot of interactions with the community as opposed to organizational things,” Spajic explained. Through interactions, club members learn how to approach the homeless. “You try to approach them as an equal because that’s what they want to be treated as. They don’t want to be seen as inferior because this might be a case for them,” Spajic said.

The Homeless Coalition also goes beyond helping those who most people tend to think of when they think of the homeless. “A lot of the time the people [who] we work with aren’t necessarily homeless but they are struggling to have a home. It’s not necessarily the homeless people you see on the subway,” Spajic elaborated.

Volunteering gives people a chance to help others and an opportunity that balances other activities that students participate in. “A lot of the time the school activities that you do might seem very selfish, like you’re just working to help yourself succeed. But volunteering is different because you don’t need to be doing this, but you’re reaching out to your community,” Spajic said. Arancio agreed, “In a school like Stuyvesant where it’s so easy to focus only on yourself it’s really important to take a step back and [...] appreciate helping your peers around you.”

At each event, members of volunteering clubs reach out a hand. The dedication and enjoyment for what they do drives members to continue helping their community. Their willingness spills over to their causes, and that’s what makes volunteering special for each individual. “I volunteer because I love it. It's really as simple as that,” Foo said.