Good People Doing Good Things — Young Ones

This week’s good people are young people … the future of our world … who have discovered the value of giving, of caring, of sharing, and … well, of being good people.

First, please meet Lawrence Wang, age 16 who lives in Edison, New Jersey.  Lawrence has first-hand knowledge of the issues that asylum-seeking groups face, from facing delays in their documentation status to being incarcerated for unjust reasons. As a recent immigrant to the United States, he resonated with the precarious situation that groups such as refugees face on a daily basis. After doing some research, Lawrence found that there were few assistance organizations for refugees and asylum seekers, leaving these two vulnerable groups without easy access to information and resources. To ensure refugees and asylum seekers have adequate support in the community, Lawrence created the Refugee Youth Enrichment Initiative.

The Refugee Youth Enrichment Initiative is a nonprofit that directly works with and advocates for refugees in Edison, New Jersey. Lawrence and his team of youth volunteers also raise awareness about the unique challenges experienced by refugees and asylum seekers through a podcast where community leaders who work in the field speak about their experiences and how others can provide support. Because refugees and asylum seekers often arrive in a new country with limited funds, clothing, and other necessities, fundraisers are a key component of the Initiative’s work—their first event, a 5K walk, had over 100 participants.

Lawrence credits the Refugee Youth Enrichment Initiative’s success to a team of passionate and dedicated youth volunteers as well as local community-serving organizations, including resettlement centers, food banks, and shelters. Since New Jersey is one of the main hotspots for refugees, he hopes that other communal-minded youth will start their own refugee assistance organizations. Lawrence understands that there are other prominent issues that are present in society, so even if youth are interested in different issues, that they lead similar efforts in their own communities.

Arianna Fields, age 15, lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  For Arianna, community service is one of the best ways to teach empathy and, by extension, acceptance of others. When brainstorming ways to teach and show empathy to others, Arianna realized that when she didn’t feel well, having support from others always made her feel better. While Arianna’s experiences feeling unwell were brief, they led her to think about youth in hospitals who were undergoing long-term care and she knew she wanted to support others her age and younger who were regularly sick or suffering from severe illnesses.

With the support of a Hershey Heartwarming Young Hero grant and in partnerships with Prime Time Education, Putnam City High School, and John Glenn Elementary, Arianna launched the “Bee Kind” initiative this past Spring. Her project involved creating care packages for youth at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital and their families. After hosting a discussion about kindness, Arianna worked with 3rd grade students to create cards with messages of care and support that would be included in the packages. The cards, along with books, games, and a bee bracelet were packed by student-athletes at Arianna’s high school. In total, students made and delivered 120 care packages.

A few surprises popped up while Arianna and her peers were participating in her project. Once things were underway, Arianna found out from one of her school’s coaches that they had a friend whose son was a patient at the hospital the care packages were being donated to. The friend spoke about her son’s and their family’s story, giving the students a clear idea about the impact they were making and helping volunteers feel a closer connection to what they were doing. Additionally, Arianna initially planned on engaging her volleyball teammates as project volunteers. When other athletes learned about Arianna’s idea, they wanted to help and joined the Bee Kind project. The student athletes also shared that after participating, they were inspired and wanted to find other ways they could give pack to the community!

Although her Bee Kind project has been completed, Arianna is already looking to the future and planning new ways to give back while supporting ongoing initiatives across Oklahoma City.

And last but not least is Lena Franklin, 23, of Jamaica, New York.  Lena is a lover of books and was disappointed when she noticed that many of her fellow special education students did not have access to books that they wanted to read. Thinking about the books she had at home and how her peers might enjoy them as much as she did, Lena began sharing her books with her classmates. Shortly after, Lena was gifted a small bookshelf that was filled with books, kicking off Lena’s Library and her goal of distributing free books to ensure youth have books to read and help foster a love of reading for everyone.

Since Lena’s Library was started in 2015, Lena began to think of ways she could provide books for others even though she was no longer in the classroom where her idea began. With the help of her mom, Lena took Lena’s Library on the road, setting up at her church, parks, and local events. She even hosted a library at a New York Knicks game! Lena tries to pick books that are relevant to different age groups as well as those that connect to the events where her Library is. One of Lena’s favorite things about her work is that unlike a traditional library, youth get to keep their Lena’s Library books.

Over the past seven years, Lena’s Library has given away hundreds of books, magazines, and other reading materials to both youth and adults! Lena has also partnered with food distribution and COVID vaccination groups to provide books to people as they wait in line or as a means of relieving stress from the day-to-day. While Lena’s work has helped countless members of her community, she has also grown and become a better reader. As she continues to inspire readers, she hopes others with intellectual disabilities will find their confidence to take action and make a difference.

It should give us all some hope in these rather dark days to know that we are putting our future into the hands of young people like these … people who care about others and are willing to do something to make the world a little bit better place.

19 thoughts on “Good People Doing Good Things — Young Ones

    • Yes, if humanity has a future, it does lie within this younger generation (I’m 71, so they are definitely younger to me!) I find it gives us hope to look at the ‘good people’ of all ages who are doing good for other people, for animals, for Planet Earth … and there are so many of them out there. They are far too often pushed into the background in the media because they are not tooting their own horns, but are busy doing good things! So, every Wednesday I feature one or more ‘good people’ because we need to remember that what we see on the 6 o’clock news isn’t representative of the whole.


    • I look back on my own childhood many decades ago, and I was not as engaged as these young people are. Today’s youth are activists on climate change, world poverty, and more. Why? I think perhaps they are seeing more than we did as children, they see so much wrong that really isn’t being addressed. Let’s just hope they don’t become discouraged, or worse yet corrupted as they reach adulthood.


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  2. It would be great to hear that those we put in power are open to, and openly support initiatives like this.Stepping down from their ivory towers would be good for them and good for the community to know they matter. These are the best people to smooth the path for many of the people suffering the problems these great youths have highlighted.

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    • Indeed, if those we put in power cared more about things like the environment and people, the world could be such a better place. But alas, they are too busy clinging to power and enhancing their wealth to be bothered with us. Best we can hope for is that young people like these become the decision-makers of the future.

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    • Indeed, throughout the years I’ve been doing my weekly ‘good people’ blog, I have featured MANY such young people who are determined to do their part to make the world a better place. I remember one, a 5-year-old child, who convinced his dad to help him set up a neighborhood recycling plan! I like to think the next generation will do a better job with this planet than we have done thus far!

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