United Amigos has a history of making a difference in the lives of its members and those in the local and greater Long Island community that the Huntington High School club reaches out to when it sees a need that it can help address.
Teacher Rosario Lorenzana has been the driving force behind the organization, along with energetic officers and members. Ms. Lorenzana serves as the faculty advisor of the club, which has carved out a special niche at the high school.
Huntington teacher Rosario Lorenzana with United Amigos members in Freeport.
Six years ago, Ms. Lorenzana began bringing students together after school who needed tutoring and English language support. Word quickly spread to other students and it became known that the teacher’s classroom was a place not only for science and language review, but other support, including understanding American culture and navigating a big high school.
What evolved was a small community that became a second home for many students. Soon the group began to grow. Realizing the needs of the students reached beyond academics and language, Ms. Lorenzana organized United Amigos.
“The club’s initial purpose was to help immigrant students coming to the distinct from Central and South American countries to adapt to a different atmosphere and feel as if they were in their mother homelands,” Ms. Lorenzano said. “United Amigos is not only a place for a lot of fun, but it also allows students to come together and become part of the Huntington family. It has created a secure place for students over the past few years.”
The club’s 2019/20 program is well underway. Members past and present enjoyed a splendid experience last summer and it continues to inspire and motivate the teenagers.
“United Amigos participated in a spectacular event in the Ebenezer SDA Church in Freeport,” Ms. Lorenzana said. “In August, club members Patricia Campos, Leyda Ponce, Nayely Estrada and Kevin Flores, served as interpreters in a health program in which medical inspection and support were given to the people in the community. We all had a grand experience.”
The Huntington contingent learned an awful lot from the experience. “The multitude of people attending the program was very striking, for sure,” Ms. Lorenzana said. “Most of the people who attended were non-English-speakers, so it was difficult for them to understand the process of examining their health, overall. Therefore, four magnanimous students came to help those who did not speak English as their first language. The students assisted the Hispanic community and they had fun as well. This allowed them to speak to people from diverse countries and cultures. They were also taught how to protect themselves and how to help communicate what they learned.”
The United Amigos members were excited to share their capability of helping others and breaking the barriers of languages along with the memorable experiences they walked away with after the initiative had wrapped up.
“Attending this kind of activity was one of the best things I did over the summer,” United Amigos President Patricia Campos said. “Helping the community as a whole was one of my favorite things and especially because I was able to spend some time with my friends and Ms. Lorenzana.”
Program officials were impressed by the Huntington students. “It was, indeed, a very memorable experience in my opinion,” United Amigos Past President Kevin Flores said. “I felt like I was doing the right thing when I was assisting those who needed my help. At the same time, I was able to meet new people and spend time with them. It was simply a unique experience.”
The volunteer experience brought United Amigos into the field and students reacted very positively. “It feels so good to help those in need because they don’t have the same privileges and opportunities as others do,” senior Nayely Estrada-Rodriquez said. “I was full of joy because they received proper medical instructions.”
The Huntington students went home feeling good about their volunteer community service. “Helping others was very nice because I knew I was doing something good; something that benefited others,” senior Leyda Ponce Guzman said. “Being able to communicate with other people and make a difference by not limiting ourselves is very crucial.”
United Amigos typically meets once a week for general academic and language support and to plan and execute various community service initiatives. For example, club members gather winter coats and food for local pantries several times a year. They participate in the Safe Halloween program for elementary school children at the high school and play a role in dances on Valentine’s Day and Cinco de Mayo. The also get involved in a variety of timely special initiatives.