Some may cite lack of time or talent as reasons for avoiding volunteer work. But Libby LeCorgne, an 18-year-old who has more volunteer jobs under her belt than most people twice her age, believes that anyone can find a way to make a difference in his or her community.
 
“There are service opportunities for everyone – you simply have to find your passion and search a place that fits your passion,” she says.

Through Academy of the Sacred Heart, where she has been a student since nursery school, she has lent a hand at the Kingsley House, The John J. Hainkel Jr. Home and Rehabilitation Center, Ozanam Inn and Harney Elementary School. She has helped adults with disabilities from the Magnolia School bowl, rebuilt houses after Hurricane Katrina, participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, co-planned Pedal for the Poor, which raised money to feed Nicaraguan children; and currently serves as vice president of Best Buddies, a group that pairs students with people with disabilities. As if she wasn’t busy enough, LeCorgne finds herself volunteering on a whim.

“Every day on my way home from school, I pass a small Head Start program called Royal Castle. One day I pulled over and went inside. I scheduled a time to come back and volunteer,” she says. “I’ve only had the time to go there once since then, but it was a great spur-of-the-moment experience.”  
LeCorgne says her most rewarding volunteer experience to date was a trip to Costa Rica last summer to assist the country’s impoverished Maleku tribe. LeCorgne, along with 12 other American students with a group called Rustic Pathways, painted houses, dug ditches, helped with trail maintenance and played with the tribe’s children.

“They are very impoverished, but the Malekus have such a kind and generous spirit. They are always happy and smiling. They also have an amazing sense of community and family values. They live a simple life, and really enjoyed us being there,” she says. “This was truly an amazing experience; not only as a cultural experience, but also as an emotional and challenging one. It was amazing to see people in their condition being so positive and happy.”

This altruistic spirit sees herself one day becoming a psychologist or teacher, or joining the Peace Corps or Teach for America.

“My community and city has done so much for me and created me into the person that I am, it is only natural that I feel a need to give back,” she says. “In New Orleans, there are so many opportunities to help and places who need other’s help. Our city is our home and everyone should make an effort to help and create a better place for everyone.”