One Tracy teen, Rachel Johnson, 19, has taken her passion for volunteering and formed a community service-based organization known as One Voice. This organization, with board members all under the age of 21, hosted an ambassador program this past Saturday at West Valley Mall.
The group exists to promote community service and raise money for charities. So far, the group has raised over $2,000 for organizations including United Way, Make A Wish Foundation, Relay For Life, and the Alzheimer’s Association.
“The inspiration behind One Voice came from my sister and I being involved with fundraisers from an early age,” Johnson, now CEO of One Voice, said. “We wanted to do something that connects the community together. We want to make an active change that is long lasting and so we formed this group.”
The group started in November 2012, with members helping at local events, and in December 2013, the group found a store location at West Valley Mall. One Voice, in the JCPenney wing, showcases comic books and original pieces of art from local artists and then gives the proceeds from sales to various charities.
Johnson recruited other young people to sit on the board of directors for One Voice. Morgan Johnson, 17, Zion Johnson, 13, Marco Bernal, 20, and Angela Hart, 18, all serve along with the group’s 15 to 20 youth volunteers.
On Saturday, the group hosted a youth ambassador training course with exercises in public speaking. The goal was to teach the local students how to effectively talk to their peers and speak at local schools and clubs. Those who took part in the program earned community service hours.
In an average month, the group does about 240 hours of volunteer work.
“This is my first time taking part in this program,” said Sujoy Shah, 12, “I selected this program because I wanted to be a part of helping raise money for community causes. It’s great to be able to help people in need and help charities.”
“This ambassador program teaches us to use our talents and skills to help the community,” said Jacquelene Pham, 16. “I think this is important and it also helps charities.”
One Voice also enlists volunteers to dress in costume as familiar heroes. Greeting the mall traffic
Saturday were Rigo Carrasco, 18, dressed as Spider-Man, and Jacob Walker, 16, dressed as Prince Charming. Several people stopped to have pictures taken with both characters.
“I started volunteering in my life when I was a freshman in high school,” Carrasco said. “I like to give back to the community and help out other people. We all have gifts that we can use to serve others.”
“I volunteer because it’s fun,” Walker said. “I don’t do this for the hours. I enjoy helping people.”
One Voice is in the JCPenney wing of the West Valley Mall, 3200 Naglee Road. It is open 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
The group can be reached through its website at www.becomeonevoice.com.
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