Kelly Kashiwagi, a native of Hong Kong, worked in the airline and jewelry industries before having her son Taylor, now 11. Now she has a busy Hong Kong mama’s lifestyle. Between raising her son, cooking dinners, seeing friends, squeezing in time for yoga, she travels throughout the year with the family. When her son started to get a bit older, though, she knew she wanted to start doing more — that she wanted to start to give back more to the Hong Kong community.
“Becoming a mom definitely made me think differently,” Kelly admits. Because of that, she started searching for volunteer opportunities working with kids. For years now she has been volunteering as a tutor for children who couldn’t otherwise afford the extra help.
Since March she has worked with Li Sing Tai Hang school for ethnic minority children (the largest nationalities are Filipino and Pakistani) helping tutoring in Chinese and English. Kelly acknowledges that at first, volunteering was tough. “These kids are the same age as mine and they had so little. I saw another side of the world.” As Kelly continued her work, though, she started to feel different. “I started to adjust my thinking. If I could just set small goals, teach them two or three words each time I saw them, I knew I’d be making a difference. Now it makes me feel happy — it’s quite meaningful.”
Kelly found the opportunity through HandsOn Hong Kong, an organization designed to make volunteering easy for individuals. HandsOn has opportunities at all different times of the week. Afternoons work best for Kelly, so she makes sure she carves out time every Thursday afternoon so she can volunteer once a week. HandsOn also has a range of types of activities – from tutoring children, to walking dogs, to working with the elderly, disabled, refugees, etc. “Its important to look at the range of issues, and think about what you’d be good at and what you’re interested in. Know your character – could you work with the handicapped, women, kids?”
As Kelly leaves to go pick up her son from the local library, she notes that volunteering also makes her feel she is setting a good example for her own son. “Next year I’d like my son to start volunteering as well. Its important for us to teach our children how lucky they are.”
Interested in volunteering? Check out www.handsonhongkong.org and its monthly calendar of volunteer opportunities.
HandsOn Hong Kong is a charity organization with the aim of building community through volunteerism. The mission is two-fold: help charities meet their volunteer needs, and help those who want to give back to the community do so in a meaningful way. It seeks to make volunteering easy for anyone – even the busiest working professionals, parents and students.