SFH Volunteers At Alief Gardens

            Sophomore Thy Tran crouched down to pull out a small weed as the sun bore down on her back. With mild interest, she decided to volunteer at the Alief Community Garden alongside fellow Students for Humanity members. However, the sizzling temperature and thousands of little critters were factors she did not anticipate.  

            A loud voice rang through the field.  

            Oh! We’re excited to see how it’s going to grow, and we hope you guys are excited, too, the event sponsor said.  

            Despite her exhaustion, Tran couldn’t hold back a smile. Her commitment had blossomed into a beautiful sense of positivity.  

            Students for Humanity is a humanitarian club that mainly focuses on roadside cleanups and gardening at the Alief Community Garden every other Saturday to provide students with the opportunities to give back to their community.  

            “I just volunteered to get my mandatory points, like every member did,” Tran said. Though reluctant at first, she began to appreciate the work she’d done. “Then, I realized, I actually really did want to see how the community [garden] would grow.” 

            Club members help plant fruits and vegetables and get rid of any weeds or bugs that disrupt the plants in the Alief Community Garden. Long-time SFH sponsor Cindi Payne said the community garden is an important project towards the goal of providing fresh food to those without financial access to it and allowing families to grow produce native to their country that is difficult to find in grocery stores. With the help of SFH, those who own a plot of land in the garden can grow their own plants and produce.  

            “I think our students being involved in the community garden is a really important step towards food security for a lot of people,” Payne said. “And you know, it also teaches them some great skills to be able to have their own gardens later on.”             

            Payne said it is really important for students to take ownership, something she strongly sees in SFH.  

            “I have been so impressed that even last year with COVID, with all of the officers still at home, that they continued to work for the club and do things, even though we couldn’t do things as a group, we couldn’t go places together,” Payne said. 

            The officers of SFH run the show. They evolve the club and decide on the volunteering route the club will take. This year, the club is focused on adding new and current issues to their agenda. They have partnered up with the OCA Greater Houston, which advocates for Asian Americans and South Pacific Islanders, to promote racial awareness, began a food drive, and signed up for new opportunities.  

            “For the future, we want to be able to hold animal shelter volunteering, be more politically active in terms of news, of what’s happening around the world, country, or in our community,” SFH President Abdullah Al-Gburi, a senior, said. “We want to be able to be more interactive with other different types of volunteering events, not just the garden.” 

             As the club’s sponsor, Payne sees the potential in student volunteers and says she wants them to feel like they’ve accomplished something by making the world a better place. 

             “I think that the club has really revived my belief that teenagers are awesome, that they can do anything,” Payne said. “But they have to have somebody who’s willing to let them try new things and someone who isn’t always saying no. And it just renews my faith and [for] the upcoming generations.” 

             Throughout the school year, members are welcome to join the club. 

             “Students for Humanity is very lighthearted, and they make it really fun by allowing you to choose what opportunities you want to go to. Like, they don’t enforce that you have to go, but it’s definitely encouraged,” sophomore SFH member Alice Phan said. 

            Their willingness to improve their community motivates students to volunteer. 

            “The feeling of satisfaction after finishing and knowing that I did something beneficial is what drives me to continue volunteering,” Phan said. 

            And SFH is just the place to start. 

            “It’s open ended, so that’s why we want people to consider joining, because they can form a group within and work on something that’s important to them,” Payne said. “That is community service.” 


Interview Subjects:

  • Cindi Payne
  • Thy Tran
  • Abdullah Al-Gburi
  • Alice Phan