Sabrina Urrutia understands what it means to lend a hand. The 22 year-old from La Serena, Chile is currently participating in the CHI Au Pair USA program, living with a host family in Vienna, VA. Sabrina previously participated in CHI’s Work and Travel program, and enjoyed it so much that she wanted to continue her cultural studies. She decided to join the au pair program because she loves children, and was interested in learning more about US culture. She especially wanted to know what it was like to live with a host family, and experience daily American life from the inside. Sabrina also felt this program would be a chance for her to take a break from school and figure out what she wanted to do with her future.
One aspect of Sabrina’s future that will always be there is her desire to volunteer. Sabrina first began volunteering in her native Chile, lending a hand with ‘Un Techo Para Chile’ (A Roof For Chile) in 2005, an organization that builds low cost housing for people in need. She followed that up in 2006 by joining ‘Adopta un Hermano’ (Adopt-a-Brother), which matches high risk children with college students who can provide a positive influence in their lives. Sabrina met with her 10-year-old ‘hermano’ Brian twice a week, working on homework together, playing with other kids and talking about their lives. She’s proud that she was able to be a role model for Brian.
In 2007, her organization of choice was a local orphanage. While there, she was able to participate in the adoption of one of the children she supervised, an extremely powerful and rewarding experience. She describes seeing the new mother holding her adopted child for the first time as being very beautiful, and something that will stay with her for the rest of her life. She also gave her time to a charity dining hall that offered low cost meals to college students, before coming to CHI.
One of the things that draws Sabrina so strongly to volunteering, is that it hasn’t caught on as much in Chile as it has here in America, and she would like to do her small part to help change that. Volunteering isn’t as ingrained in the culture there and people don’t feel that they have time to help out between work and school. She also feels that people back home who haven’t volunteered do not realize that there is a huge reward when you volunteer, and you end up getting back so much more than you give. Sabrina knows that a very small action can make a big change in someone’s life. She would like to be an example to inspire others to get involved, as well.
Sabrina feels volunteering has been extremely rewarding. She has learned so much about herself as well as others. She has made wonderful friendships that continue to last through the years. She also appreciates that volunteering allows her to learn new skills as well as improve her current skills. Looking forward, Sabrina plans to return home to Chile soon, and rejoin ‘Un Techo Para Chile’. She would like to remind you that one person, one home, one child, one tree – you can make a difference. Sabrina hopes her story will help others find some time to volunteer as well.