CSULB student puts service before self
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 00:09
Most people wouldn’t think of watching Nickelodeon as volunteer work, but that’s what Ashley Riley did one day at Miller Children’s Hospital.
“I was with one girl who just wanted someone to watch ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ with her,” Riley said. “She just wanted some company and someone to talk to her about school and what she liked.”
Riley, a senior school health education major at Cal State Long Beach, has volunteered throughout high school and college with the Rotaract Club, a nonprofit organization that links young adults with service activities in their local communities. She recently earned a $1,000 scholarship through Charter One bank for her volunteering efforts.
Riley said she identifies with the Rotaract Club’s message.
“The model of the club is ‘service before self,’” she said. “It was amazing to find a group of people my age that wanted to give back.”
Riley said the organization gave her a sense of self-fulfillment and purpose. She continued volunteering after graduating high school and transferred to CSULB.
Riley’s experience helped her gain the title of Director of Community Engagement at the Rotaract Club of Long Beach last year. As director, she called local businesses and nonprofits to see if they could use an extra helping hand.
Riley said that one of her major accomplishments was creating a relationship with Miller Children’s Hospital. She originally attended CSULB with an interest in nursing.
Through the connections she made in the organization, the Rotaract Club was able to provide some much needed recreation time for young patients. Every first Saturday of the month, club members help kids create art projects, play board games or just watch TV.
The current president of the Rotaract Club of Long Beach, Katie Gaston, said she had nothing but high praises for Riley’s efforts.
“I’ve known her for two years now… and I think that she’s probably one of the most reliable members I’ve worked with,” Gaston said. “She has an extremely big heart for service.”
With her degree in health education almost completed, Riley said she hopes to inspire healthy habits in schoolchildren after graduation.
“I was able to experience a year-and-a-half internship at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Long Beach,” Riley said. “I realized that people don’t know what’s happening with their bodies. I’d like to change that.”