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Windermere Observer Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 1 week ago

HOPE club encourages volunteerism among HWMS students

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The new club at Horizon West Middle School is geared toward students who want to serve their communities.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

A new club coming to Horizon West Middle School is looking to help students who feel the need to help others. 

The HOPE Club is a volunteer and outreach club for students who are looking to answer the call to serve their communities. HOPE — which stands for “Hornets Offering Positive Efforts” — is free for students to join and sponsored by the school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Organization. The club was the idea of the school’s PTSO vice president, Tamara Zotti, who has an eighth-grade daughter at the school.

“We have so many kids who really, really want to help (their community),” Zotti said. “They want to serve and they want to share kindness. … We wanted to start the club because we felt like there was something here missing and we needed it. They have National Junior Honor Society. They have Beta Club, but they don’t do as much community outreach.”

Zotti is no stranger to student volunteer clubs. Before her daughter started attending Horizon West, she was a student at Bridgewater Middle School. During that time, Zotti also was involved in the PTSO at Bridgewater and helped start the BRAVO club, which went by a different name in its first year. Although Zotti is no longer in the BMS PTSO, the club still is active in the school today.

“I came up with the name, ‘BRAVO,’ which was ‘Bobcats Reaching Available Volunteer Opportunities,’” Zotti said. “With that (club), we did excellent. I was able to reach out to different people in the community and learn who people were, and then when my daughter got transferred to Horizon West (Middle School), I said, ‘I’m going to continue the club,’ but I’m not going to name it BRAVO. So that’s when I came up with HOPE.”

The new club currently is seeking sponsors and volunteer opportunities within the community. Zotti said although they would be more than happy to have students volunteer with some of the more well-known nonprofit organizations within the area, she is more interested in reaching out to smaller organizations that may not get the same amount of attention.

“We have such a big community that wants to do so much for each other,” Zotti said. “If (we) could be a small piece of that and have this little club where these kids can go out and show how much they care, why not?”

Volunteerism is something that was instilled in Zotti from a young age by her mother, and she hopes to pass that same spirit on to future generations. She said one of her goals for HOPE is to inspire students to feel good about doing good in their community.

“I don’t want it to be a struggle (for students),” Zotti said. “I want them to show up and say, ‘What can I do?’”

The club presents volunteer opportunities for both students and their parents, as well. Members can choose which volunteer opportunities to adopt and aren’t required to get involved with every volunteering endeavor. Whatever volunteer hours a student accrues under HOPE count toward volunteer hour requirements in other student clubs.

In addition to volunteering in outside organizations, the HOPE club also will be hosting clothing drives twice a year to raise money to give back to the school or to the community. 

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and the West Orange Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. Contact Eric at...

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