Power of Youth

The Power of Youth

Kids find unique ways to inspire peers to volunteer

Posted on July 22, 2019

Last September, we met up with teen dynamo Daniella Benitez, whose work with nonprofit housing organization Build A Miracle took her from raising $16,000 in donations — the amount needed to fund one entire furnished home — to assisting in the actual building of the home for a needy family in Tijuana. At just 14 years old, Daniella already recognized the rewards in helping others, and her work and passion inspired her brother, Gabriel, 13, to join her. In the months since, they’ve each completed two more homes and secured an anonymous donor to fund an additional two, slated for build this fall. To activate her peers to join her, she launched a Build A Miracle Club at Cathedral Catholic High School, where she’ll return for her sophomore year in the fall. Meanwhile, Gabriel is spearheading a campaign of his own at his school, Notre Dame Academy, to fund another house as well. “I feel like it’s a healthy part of living,” says Daniella of volunteering. “You feel powerful — you’re using your power to help others.”  Instagram: @daniellamariebenitez

Power of Youth

Gabriel Benitez and Daniella Benitez

When we first met Connor Jabbar, now 18, in March 2018, he and his now 15-year-old brother, Sean, had newly created Double Peak, an apparel line featuring their own custom-designed logo. By obtaining sponsorships to underwrite the hard costs of the clothing, the Jabbar brothers and their Double Peak team are able to donate 100 percent of profits to select charities, and initiatives benefiting the Monarch School, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Shelter to Soldier have generated nearly $30,000 to date. The organization’s current charitable partnership is with the Lynch Foundation for Children, which advocates to fight child sex trafficking in San Diego. In order to raise awareness, on July 25, from 5 to 7:30pm, Double Peak and the Lynch Foundation for Children will host an intimate harbor cruise for 120 people, featuring Ebony Jones, a survivor and founder of Living Beyond the Hustle, and deputy District Attorney Mary-Ellen Barrett as guest speakers. Reservations for the no-cost event are offered on a first-come basis. double-peak.com

Power of Youth

Double Peak

Kenan Pala’s immigrant parents instilled a need to give back in him early on, a direct result of the gratitude they feel for the opportunities they’ve been given since emigrating from Turkey to the U.S. in 1998. Their desire to volunteer as a family sometimes left them frustrated, as they had challenges finding opportunities where young Kenan and his little brother could also take part. With that in mind, in December 2016, Kenan founded Kids4Community, a nonprofit organization geared toward enabling kids to volunteer at any age. Though the group has taken part in various volunteer programs and activities, its primary focus is homelessness and hunger. The soon-to-be Francis Parker sophomore says, “The main goal is just to help people improve their lives, whether it’s helping a child discover their passion for volunteering or helping the life of a homeless person on the street.” kids4.org   Deanna Murphy

Power of Youth

Kenan Pala

Double Peak: Photo by Mason Lane