First-year student Paulina Bustillos has been recognized for her selfless hobby. An avid volunteer, she recently won the Wertheimer Youth in Action Award. The Community Foundation of Frederick County presents this award each year to a young person who positively impacts the community by volunteering talents and energy.
She was honored by the foundation in November, and she received a $1,000 grant to give to the nonprofit of her choice. She chose Centro Hispano de Frederick, an organization that educates people with limited English proficiency in order to promote full participation in their communities.
Bustillos has always been interested in volunteering.
“In high school I would try to help out with whatever events I could, in school or somewhere else,” she said. “I like how productive I feel when I volunteer. At the end of an event I always feel satisfied when I think that I tried my best to help others.”
She was volunteering at a food drive in an elementary school when she met Elizabeth Chung, the executive director of the Asian American Center of Frederick. They talked, and Chung offered her a scholarship with the AmeriCorps program as an intern at their Asian American Center’s office. She served as the assistant teacher for the English as a Second Language classes.
“The office was also very active in local events such as Planting Hope, the Health fair, the Latino Festival, etc., and I would help wherever I could. I would go to these events to promote our ESL classes as well as describe the services that AACF provides,” she said.
Bustillos is fluent in English and Spanish, which helped her in her internship. She is also proficient in French and has a basic understanding of American Sign Language.
“At the health fair in October, which was organized by the AACF, I was an interpreter and helped people to fill out medical forms,” she said. “The AACF provides interpreting services, assists people in enrolling in health care and informs people about the health disparities between different ethnic groups and where they should go to get medical help.”
Chung nominated Bustillos for the award because of Bustillos’ volunteerism and knack for helping others.
“The award means something new to me, almost like a turning point in my life,” she said. “I didn’t expect to get this award at all. I didn’t expect to be acknowledged for volunteering since I would describe volunteering as my hobby. It also made me feel like I’ve been doing something good, and I would like to continue to do so in the future.”
The foundation’s Wertheimer awards are named for the late Janis Miller Wertheimer, a well-known Frederick County businesswoman and prolific volunteer. The foundation presented its first youth award for volunteerism in 2012.