Natural Helpers are laser focused on assisting their classmates and each other to put personal challenges in perspective and move past them. The group has a long history of helping to make Huntington High School a better place and lifting the spirits of everyone.
The teenagers who comprise the Natural Helpers club have all been chosen by their classmates. “It’s a peer mediation group that is trained to give advice to those in need,” said senior Sarah Giarraputo, who serves as the organization’s president along with Angelica Hernandez and Ryan Aguirre. Aaron Chin in the group’s secretary-treasurer.
“Every year we have an overnight training session for the kids that are new and it brings all of us closer together,” Ms. Giarraputo said. “Due COVID-19, we’ve been organizing other activities for our members to participate in that involve training.”
The training sessions give the Natural Helpers the skills they need to offer help to others or to just “be a shoulder for them to cry on,” Ms. Giarraputo said. “So far, we’ve held a socially distanced breakfast with the high school life skills program kids, created cards for those who have lost loved ones in our community and our most recent activity, which was creating a board filled with thank you notes to our custodial and grounds staff. We have a lot more planned involving the life skills kids and hopefully we’ll be able to figure out how to do some more training virtually.”
Making sure “everyone is okay” is a big part of the Natural Helpers program, which is carefully overseen by faculty advisor Robert Gilmor III.
“The way we train is we have an overnight retreat where we get to know everyone in the group and do really fun activities,” Ms. Hernandez said. “We really grow from that retreat and we all get close and I’ve truly have found friends that I don’t think I could’ve found without Naturals.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a long list of changes to the Natural Helpers program, the teenagers and their longtime advisor have found ways to still accomplish their goals and play a meaningful role in the lives of those at the high school.
“The plans for this year have been off to a great start,” Ms. Hernandez said. “We made sure we started our weekly meeting so we can check in on everyone and just have a moment to just feel a little normalcy. We usually have our retreat planned around this time, but due to everything going on we haven’t had the chance. We’ve done small things as a club to relax and have fun. This year I really do believe I have a great team. We have our treasurer/secretary Aaron Chin and my fellow presidents Ryan Aguirre, Sarah Giarraputo. Not only us, but Mr. Gilmor, too!”
Last Friday afternoon, Natural Helpers spent time on a project designed to express their appreciation for a group of district employees who have worked hard to provide a safe environment for students, faculty and staff.
“Natural Helpers decided to try to find a way to thank our custodians as well as the buildings and grounds department for working so hard to keep everyone safe,” Ms. Hernandez said. “We all wrote thank you cards and decorated a bulletin board with cards we made. Everyone in Naturals felt like it was the least we could do to thank them for their hard work. It’s been such a crazy year and I really do think that this way of thanking them will shine some happiness here in the high school. When we had the idea to thank them, Aaron Chin, Ryan Aguirre, Sarah Giarraputo and I knew we had to do this. And again, we really want to thank the custodians and buildings and ground staff.”