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Malik, Maya, Sister, and Sonja

This summer I didn’t want to spend day after day working a retail job in the mall like most teens around our age do.  I wanted to spend the summer in the best city in the world.

After sharing this interest with my mom she told me about a non-profit charity in New York City called Maya’s Hope. I thought to myself this is GREAT. I wasn’t looking to get paid or work from sun up to sun down I just wanted to do something to occupy my time. I sent an email to the founder of the charity and it all started from there. Two or three days after that we set up a place to meet so I can gain some more information about the charity.  I headed to the 2 train got off at 42nd street and walked to 10th avenue where Maya and I met in a garden. We got to know each other a little bit more and I recorded videos for her upcoming event at the time.  Towards the end of our meeting, Maya received a phone call with some pretty bad news (the venue for her event cancelled on her two months before)  so we ended our meeting and agreed to meet the next day.

So the next day I once again got on subway and took it to 42nd street, as I did the next day, and the next day and soon it just became a daily thing.  Maya’s local Dunkin Donuts soon became our usually meeting place where we would share laughs, she would answer endless amounts of emails, and she would show me how to make glitter cards (that I failed at as anyone who knows me knows, I am not good at artsy things.)

With Maya running a charity she sometimes had her bad days. At first I didn’t know how to handle it but I took the time to really sit back and take a look at all the work she has to do and even I myself would be overwhelmed and cranky.

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Malik on Maya’s Hope Idol

One hot summer day I had to haul newsletters from the grand central area to the west side, anyone who knows NYC knows that its no short work and the heat makes it no better.  The first event that I helped out at was a Karaoke Event.  I watched others sing their hearts out and saw that Maya brought together people who just wanted to have a good time and sing for a good cause.

As the weeks went on we worked together to start planning her last event of the summer, which took place at a amazing venue in the Chelsea area. When Maya told me New York City housewife, Sonja Morgan was going to attend the event as you can probably imagine my jaw was on the floor. I thought to myself what teens get to meet a celebrity!!

Since Maya was so busy doing a million and one things, I once conducted a meeting for the last summer event, I was little nervous because it was my first time being in charge of something so important. Along with conducting a meeting, I also ran errands to the upper west side from time to time. A week before the Glitter hour, I helped Maya pick up things for the event. I could see Maya was totally exhausted she looked like she hasn’t slept in days! No matter what Maya always worked hard, she was once as sick as a dog but she was still running errands and sending out emails, making glitter cards, making phone calls for people to come to the event and so much more that she had on her plate to accomplish before the event which was a week away.

The day before the Glitter Hour event I myself got sick. I was so angry my one chance to meet one of my favorite celebrities was not going to be ruined because I was sick. After many cough drops, tissues and bowls of soup later, I felt better and made my way back to the city to help out with the Glitter Hour event. I even brought my cousin along with me to help out. When I arrived at the event I knew it was game on this was a really big event with tons of people and a Bravo celebrity. It was a world I wasn’t use to. I considered myself very lucky because I don’t know many kids my age that get to experience something like that. Since most kids our age are so caught up in dumb high school relationships, money, twitter, and Facebook. Things in the city are so fast pace and although I am from the city that never sleeps and lived the face pace life for 12 years I started to get use to the laid back Orange County lifestyle.  Our volunteers were helping out with the event as well. It was great to meet people around my age that also cared about a great cause.

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Finally, the moment I waited for since I watched season 3 of the Housewives of New York City, Sonja Morgan was right in front of me. I honestly felt like I was on a TV show, the cameras were flashing and it just all felt like one big dream. The life I always dreamed of living and the life I hope to live later on in life when I have a job in the public relations field, started to really feel like a reality.

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From running errands to meeting in Dunkin Donuts, hauling newsletters, and talks with Maya I truly had a great experience.

One moment of my experience of being a Maya’s Hope volunteer that I will truly never forget was getting to meet Sr. Bernarda. Sr. Bernarda is truly the sweetest person I have ever met. On the day Maya and I met with her it was SUPER hot outside, we had dinner in the East Village, where I got to eat Borscht for the very first time, which I loved. Sr. Bernarda is one person I will never ever forget, she is so wonderful you really don’t find many people around like her anymore she is just so happy about life and is such a sweet lady.

The one downside, which I am 100% positive most people in NYC will agree with me was dealing with those crazy NYC taxi cabs and rush hour. Oh rush hour, crazy packed subways and train delays. All and all it was all worth it. This summer was what it was because I got the chance to volunteer at a wonderful charity, meet so many people, take pictures with Sonja Morgan, and got to work along side Maya the founder of Maya’s Hope and got to see what really goes in to planning events. This is one summer I will never forget.

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Malik and Maya bonding over Bubble Tea

Contributed by Malik Young, Age 16

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