Geovanni Medina is the captain of both the football and wrestling teams at New Britain High School, as well as an All-American athlete. But when he’s not taking the field or hitting the mat, Medina is focusing his efforts on giving back to others. On top of school and sports, he spends his time connecting with children through Unified Sports and the Feed My Starving Children program and aspires to be a role model for his peers and young Latinos. He said he hopes his example sets of a “domino effect” within his community and inspires his fellow students to join in.
Do you see yourself as a role model, either in the Latino community or in general? How do you identify yourself within the community?
I see myself as a role model in both the Latino community and in general. I’ve accomplished things that were unheard of in the New Britain community both athletically and academically. I wrestle for New Britain High School and have had a very successful career by becoming the first All-American wrestler. Being Latino and accomplishing this is a big deal because it shows the Latino community that anything can be accomplished if you work hard at it.
I believe I gave hope to kids in my community to be able to make it in life. Growing up in New Britain is tough because of the poverty and violence. Showing others that it’s possible to make a change in the community delivers the image of a role model to others. I know I’m being looked upon by the younger kids and I know that I have to be the best role model I can be.
Explain a bit about your experience with volunteering. Why did you get involved and how has it been rewarding? What are some of your best memories and experiences?
I’ve offered my volunteer hours to help both Unified Sports and the “Feed my Starving Children” program to show compassion for kids that are less fortunate or handicapped. I’m involved with unified sports is because it makes me feel like I can help others and make a difference in someone’s life. The kids enjoy the fact that other people are willing to take their time to hang out and spent time with them. I feel like I can make an impact on the kids’ lives, whether it’s helping them out with a game like basketball or volleyball or even just being there for them emotionally, where they can feel appreciated and feel as if they are “somebody” for once. Knowing that I can do that for an individual’s life is what keeps me involved and makes me want to be a part of someone’s life in a positive way. Volunteering has been rewarding in many ways for me. It has given me a different outlook on life and a more positive way of thinking. It makes me appreciate the little things more in life.
Some of the best memories I’ve have while being involved with unified sports must be when I connected with one of the kids named Timmy. He was one of the biggest influences on why the unified sports program was started at NBHS. Getting him to be social with others was very difficult; he kept to himself and didn’t really trust easily. Timmy has Down Syndrome and I was able to connect with him on a level where not many people do. Him and I have share the same birthday and he has nicknamed me “Shark” because I look like a shark to him, which is pretty funny. Being able to connect with someone and make them smile is the best reward I can get out of my experience and it’s all I ask for.
How did you get involved with Feed My Starving Children and why did you think it was a worthy cause? What was your experience been like?
I got involved with Feed My Starving Children through unified sports. The unified sports director for New Britain High School told me about the program and asked if I would like to be involved. I agreed and it was an unforgettable time. Knowing that I was able to feed kids that aren’t fortunate enough to have what we have makes me feel good inside. It makes me feel like I made a change in someone’s life, whether it was one person or even thousands. The experience was wonderful and I will never forget the experience it bestowed upon me. I feel it was a worthy cause because whether I see the progress or change for my own eyes, I know I’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
One day we had packaged over 22,000 meals for the program, which enabled us to feed about 60 kids for an entire year. Knowing that I was a part of that made me realize that I’ll gladly help all that I can and a little bit more because, out there, someone is counting on us to make a change for the good. My experience with the program was one I’ll never forget. The caring attitude everyone had for other people throughout the program showed me that there are a lot of people out there trying to make a change The world is full of good, but it’s often hard to see become the bad sometimes overrule it.
As a student and a Latino, why do you think it’s so important to be involved in these types of volunteer work?
As a Latino student I honestly feel like not much is expected by me. So being involved in these types of activities shows others that I can be something in life and shows that it’s possible to make a change. Its important to be a part of these activities because it gives other kids or even Latinos the courage to want to do something they’ve always wanted to do, but maybe are too scared or too shy to try. In doing so it can have kids in the community learn to be more outgoing and become helpful in the community. Once someone sees the change I’m doing in my community they will want to join in the change. It would be a domino effect where I can get a majority of the community working together to make a change for the better. I hope I have given the Latino community a brighter look, with no expectations to receive anything in return, and that is what makes the things I do feel special.