By LIM MAY LEE
WHEN was the last time you volunteered for a cause outside of school activities? YouTube stars like Kina Grannis and David Choi, as well as activists Andy Ridley, Scott Hammell and Rob Dyer were in Malaysia last week for the Reach Out Convention and Celebration concert at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus in Petaling Jaya, and they gave a timely reminder that volunteerism is a lifestyle – not just an extra credit.
The event, organised by 1Malaysia For Youth (iM4U), had performances by Grannis and Choi, as well as Madilyn Bailey, Jason Chen and Jun Sung Ahn, to raise awareness about volunteerism among the youth of Malaysia. And how’s this for being in the spirit of volunteerism – all five of them performed at the event for free!
And we’re just gonna put this out there – volunteerism doesn’t have to be all old folks’ homes and animal shelters. Those things are great, but there are many other causes that young people can find a passion for.
“The very first magic show I ever did for the public was a fundraiser for the food bank and women’s shelter in my hometown,” said inspirational entertainer Hammell.
The slightly confusing term “inspirational entertainer” means he performs magic shows and escape stunts – and goes skydiving while handcuffed – while also being an inspirational speaker.
Crazy as it sounds, he’s not the only one to mix two seemingly-unrelated passions for the greater good.
Dyer, a skater who has lost many loved ones to cancer, used his passion for skating to raise awareness about the early detection of cancer, resulting in the Skate4Cancer foundation.
“The wanting to give back came from my own experiences with people having cancer,” he said. “It was a challenge at first because people didn’t get how you could tie the two (skateboarding and doing good) together, but I think you can tie anything to a cause as long as you’re passionate about it and it comes from a real place.”
Locally, rapper Joe Flizzow also volunteerd to do his part by offering his restaurant-cum-barber shop, Joe’s Kitchen and Joe’s Barber Shop, for a recycling effort by iM4U’s Green Team.
Initially, using his premises as a recycling collection centre was supposed to be a one-off event, but there are plans to make it a regular thing. “I’m hoping to install permanent bins,” said Joe. “But I would have to get approval from the local city council, so if you could put that in your story…”
There you go, Joe. Good luck (and thank us later)!
Hammell and Dyer were also there at Joe’s recycling event to walk the talk and get their hands dirty. When we asked what they had to say to Malaysian youth about reaching out and volunteering, Hammel simply said: “Start now!”
“Start with what you have. Don’t shoot for an unrealistic goal, but have little goals along the way, with the big goal in mind,” added Dyer.
“Don’t be afraid to be different,” said Joe.
“There are a lot of important things in the world, and once you’re aware of them, I think you’ll be very passionate. We have all the resources to learn more. Back then, we only had books and encyclopaedias. Now you’ve got the Internet.”