HOBY MD In Action

“Kindness: Pass It On”

by Olaoluwadeji Jones

Hello! My name is Olaoluwadeji (‘Deji for short) and the thought that I am writing a public blog post for others to read is mindblowing to me, especially since last year I never thought that I would be able to do something like this. Coming out of my sophomore year in high school, I did not think I had the capability to be a leader. I thought that leadership was an inborn trait that I could never possess. HOBY was the place where that changed for me. At HOBY, I was able to discover my identity, and I realized that leadership is not inborn; it is taught.

Participating in HOBY was such a life changing experience that when I was given the opportunity to volunteer, I immediately took advantage of it. As a volunteer, I worked as a part of HOBY’s Green Team. As Green Team, we helped establish an environment to keep HOBY as sustainable as possible. Whether it was sorting food waste, educating about climate action, or reducing the carbon footprint of the seminar, Green Team works hard to keep HOBY eco-friendly. Because of the nature of our work, Green Team would often interact with the seminar ambassadors (the high school sophomores that are attending HOBY) . These interactions helped me to further realize the value of kindness even more so than when I was an ambassador. Whether it was congratulating the ambassadors on diminishing their wasted food or even greeting them on their way inside the main hall, I was able to see in real time how kindness connects people.

What I had not realized in my first year at HOBY was that kindness was the foundation of HOBY that allowed everyone involved to feel supported, and this surrounding air of support was what allowed people to find their identity and establish deep bonds between the other participants. It was what allowed ambassadors who were unsure about HOBY on the first day to be laughing, cheering, and dancing with their new friends by the evening of the second day.The foundation of kindness provided by volunteers created a community that strove to connect, and through this connection the volunteers were able to build a better seminar each year.

By taking the first step and choosing to volunteer, we were contributing to a foundation of kindness that ultimately made HOBY better as a whole, and even offered the ambassadors a life changing experience.

This experience showed me that volunteering can be an avenue for expressing the kindness which betters society as a whole by creating supportive bonds between people.

By providing a grant to HOBY’s service projects, Riley’s Way also allowed me to pursue my goal of spreading kindness to the lives of others. I am thankful to everyone involved in Riley’s Way for extending kindness to HOBY. All of you are how we say at HOBY, OUTSTANDING.

“Finding Your Family at HOBY Maryland”

by Isabella Shanley 

Have you ever felt like those around you aren’t as driven or passionate as you are? Maybe you’re more focu

sed on creating change than your peers are, or maybe you’re more aware of problems that need to be solved.

The Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Maryland Leadership Seminar program connects like-minded sophomores that are leaders in their communities or show leadership potential from all across the state, uniting them in their drive to create positive change in the world. Imagine being surrounded by 300 students and adults who share many of the same core values: leadership, friendship, and volunteerism. In this space, everyone is encouraged to be their authentic selves with no judgment. This is a place where students are empowered to serve and lead, and are exposed to an amazing network of passionate changemakers.

The HOBY MD Seminar has three phases of leadership: individual, group, and societal. Volunteerism is a core part of this program. At HOBY, students work on a Leadership in Action (LiA) project to learn how to use their unique skills to support the local community. At this year’s Maryland seminar, we held a “service fair,” consisting of five service projects that each support a different target group. Students are able to use their creativity to directly help others. Made possible by generous assistance from Riley’s Way, our students were encouraged to support many different priority groups, including first responders, animal shelters, humanitarian issues, and environmental justice.

It was incredible to help facilitate this experience for our 220 ambassadors as they each spent time on different service projects. With this amazing and diverse group of young leaders, we were able to impact an incredibly wide variety of communities in a relatively short amount of time. Students had a wonderful time unleashing their creativity while creating dog toys and animal blankets, making kindness-themed friendship bracelets, decorating pillowcases for isolated first responders, and creating multipurpose paracord bracelets that are not only durable but sustainable.

Every student has the power to be a phenomenal leader. Every student also has the ability to emulate values held by Riley’s Way such as kindness and empathy. At HOBY MD, we strive to help students from all around the state to find their passion for service, leadership, and kindness. Every minute of time, every paracord bracelet made or pillowcase decorated, and every single person is vitally important to help create positive change in the world.