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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators

One small act of humanity

Learning the meaning of leadership through helping others

By Jamie Gracie, Ripon High School | May | June 2021
This summer, through my internship with the San Joaquin District Attorney’s office, I had the opportunity to volunteer with county public health relief efforts.
On my first day, I was shocked to see the number of homeless people living in Tent City, the largest homeless encampment in Stockton, California. I found myself wondering who the homeless turn to during this pandemic? I then realized that I had to take responsibility.
With the rise of COVID-19, homeless camps have had a high rate of contracting the virus. During this time, I volunteered to deliver essential goods. Three days a week, I would drive to various homeless encampments. My role as a volunteer was to distribute cooked meals, masks, hand sanitizers, toiletry items and informational brochures regarding COVID-19. Along with distributing items, I also collected data on residents from the camps on their health conditions and asked if they were experiencing symptoms.
Through this opportunity, although we are all experiencing the effects of the pandemic, I began to understand the extreme challenges of the homeless. These efforts taught me the true meaning of humanity. By volunteering, I knew there would be a chance of possible exposure to the disease. However, I understood that taking risks is a quality a leader should have.
I believe a true leader is selfless and empathic in a time of crisis. I was inspired to take action when I saw the mistreatment and injustices that the homeless community faces. Solving issues regarding homelessness starts with providing fundamental resources to care for themselves.
Homelessness, especially in regard to COVID-19, has become increasingly political, but I was happy to play a small part in helping those who needed it most. Most importantly, I learned that one small act of humanity not only changes the receiver, but the giver.
Jamie Gracie attends Ripon High School in the Ripon Unified School District
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