In my last post, I said I’ve been trying to keep busy since I’ve been back. Well, one thing I did was volunteer with an organization that I love and have missed greatly: HOBY.
What is HOBY?!
For those who do not know what HOBY is: it is a non-profit, volunteer based organization that puts on leadership/community service seminars for high school sophomores/rising juniors. The organization, founded by actor Hugh O’Brian, has three levels of conferences: CLEW (county/local one day events), Regional (weekend seminars at a university campus, either a whole state or part of one), and WLC (World Leadership Congress, a week-long annual event that involves youth from all over the country/world).
What is its purpose?
The goal of the program is to empower the youth and teach them to channel and control their natural leadership abilities, believe in their ideas, and get involved in community service. The sophomores who take part are called ‘ambassadors.’ Once every ambassador has gone through a regional level conference, he or she is welcomed into the HOBY Alumni Association, where he/she can stay involved with HOBY events/projects and stay in touch with new friends.
To outsiders, it may seem like HOBY is cult-like or maybe a a good idea, but not necessarily effective. Well it is normal to be skeptical that a weekend-long program could be so life-changing that you come out a different person, but as a HOBY New York East alumna, I can tell you, it works.
From the moment I got involved with HOBY as a high school sophomore in 2004, I never wanted to stop. Since then I have volunteered at the NYE seminar in Albany/Troy, NY almost every year and also at a CLEW in Kingston, NY. Every time I walk into the Thursday night staff training before the seminar and see my HOBY family, I am greeted with warm welcomes, and I know that I have a great network and lifelong connections.
So why do I go back? Not only to see everyone again. I go back to help recreate the experience I had and give it to someone else. I do not know what is more empowering – being an ambassador and realizing your potential for the first time, or being a staff member and helping affect that realization in the ambassadors.