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What have you done to make your community a better place?

Wendy, one of our youngest volunteers from last summer, wrote a beautiful essay about her experience at Trinity Center and we want to share it with all of you. This essay got her early admission to UC Berkeley (~1,000/124,000+ applications)!

Our volunteers' experiences and stories are at the heart of our organization. Their dedication makes our work possible, and we couldn't achieve our mission without their invaluable support.


“Two creams, one sugar,” requests Hattie, for her daily coffee.

I oblige, reaching over the strewn housing papers, mini bottles of shampoo, and IDs into the boxes on top of the mail cabinet to retrieve her add-ins. She smiles back gratefully, and I give her a little wave goodbye. I have her preferences memorized at this point, Hattie being the first “unhoused neighbor” I met at the Trinity Center, a local homeless shelter.

Entering as the youngest volunteer, I was nervous about assisting adults older than me. On my first day, I clumsily scavenged for masks, handed out mail, and sorted through clothing. But as I connected with this community, as I lip-synced to Moe’s self-produced mixtape, spoke Chinese with gentle-giant Ivan, and prayed on the bathroom floor with grief-stricken Danielle, who had just lost her cousin to a gun, I found myself growing into my role.

I now recognize that in the face of losses, whether the loss of a job, the loss of a home, or the loss of a family member, offering simple kindness to others experiencing hardship can have a powerful influence. Whether it’s fingers tracing routes to food banks or mouths softening to offer words of hope, I strive to maintain the Trinity Center as a pillar of support for this underserved, underrepresented and misunderstood unhoused population. In my time here, I came to understand when to listen, when to give advice, and even when to set clear boundaries.

Coming back to school, my new-found interpersonal insight flourished alongside my proactiveness. I organized a chemistry peer tutoring program, pairing up students for extra help. When I discovered LASA didn’t offer AP Biology or Biology Olympiad, I co-founded the Biology Club and had over 65 students involved with higher-level biology. Supporting my fellow peers allows me to empower myself and become a better leader.

Learning from others, and collaborating with different people in different situations, has helped me identify that improving my community and myself comes from reaching out to others and fostering compassion. I hope to continue my journey of service and positivity at the University of California.

Wendy Geng

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