By day, Wendy Wu is a piano teacher who shares her love for music with students of all ages, but through volunteering, Wendy is expanding her impact on younger generations and inspiring future acts of service.
Launching IYC (IMPACT Youth Club) in 2013, Wendy is empowering future service leaders through student-run community-based acts of kindness and charity activities. Building confidence for youth through mentorship, IYC gives students of all backgrounds including in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and internationally in Taiwan and China the opportunity to develop their own service projects and do good deeds through the promotion of music performance, art and education. Connecting with several hundred youth thus far, Wendy is hitting the high notes of service by inspiring younger generations to volunteer.
What inspires you to volunteer?
My passion for music is what inspired this journey into volunteering. Initially, we started as a youth group focused solely on spreading music into the community. Then, our efforts evolved into a group passionate about helping the community in more ways than one. As a teacher, I don’t just teach music, I also foster growth, personality and empathy. Through volunteerism, I’m helping to build these characteristics, which are really critical to developing adults who want to give back to the community.
How are you inspiring youth to serve?
We really focus on autonomy to help build confidence in students. We explain to students that volunteering is their responsibility to help others.
Describe your volunteerism with IYC.
As founder and executive director, I wear multiple hats. I coordinate and oversee activities for our mostly student volunteers including music events. We have hundreds of volunteers in the U.S. IYC fundraises to support activities through donations and events.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
In Chinese, we believe and live by what Confucius says. Pretend society is a hot pot of boiling water, some people will be like eggs, they start off soft but once they get into society they become hardened. Others are like carrots, initially hard but soften through time. Others are like tea leaves, once they enter society they change water to tea, forever influencing society. I tell my volunteers to be the tea leaves in their own communities. We all want to be tea leaves (laughs!)
What’s been the most rewarding part of your service?
It’s rewarding to foster the next generation of leaders and givers and to inspire others to become empathetic and loving.
How have you continued to volunteer throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
We supported youth volunteers to coordinate activities including music events during the pandemic. We ran even more activities this year than last because of the virtual opportunities. Some kids felt isolated and frustrated during the pandemic, so one of our student volunteers created a virtual exercise class, and we also hosted online conversations for younger students. We conducted virtual music concerts and distributed them to local senior centers. We also made cards for senior centers and staff. Lastly, we supported frontline workers by raising money to purchase 4,500 masks and 700 medical gowns for local hospitals and police stations.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
Love. There’s a ‘love’ hidden inside the word, volunteering. You have to find it (laughs.)
How can readers help?
Please visit IYC’s website for more information about how you can give back.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Wendy Wu? Find local volunteer opportunities.