Members of the audience listen to panelists speak about their path...

Members of the audience listen to panelists speak about their path of civic action and social justice during the inaugural Gen-Z Civic Leadership Summit on Saturday at Farmingdale State College. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Angelo Mansilla said he felt that certain spark, that desire to do more for the world.

So Mansilla, of Wantagh, joined dozens of other young people Saturday for an activism workshop at Farmingdale State College, which featured inspirational stories from Long Islanders who've dedicated themselves to causes.

They shared advice and an inside look at becoming involved in your community and dedicating yourself to a cause — and all the attendant joy and frustration, fellowship and criticism, that comes with it.

The workshop was sponsored by the Minority Millennials, a Long Island nonprofit that works to educate and empower young people on civic engagement, leadership skills and social responsibility. Millennials are those born from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, making them roughly in their late 20s to early 40s.

The event was the group's first workshop aimed at Gen Z, that group of people born between the late-1990s to the early 2010s, which makes them about 9 to 26. Minority Millennials primary works with young people of color.

Mansilla said the workshop, held in the student center ballroom of Farmingdale State College, was helping him decide on a career.

"I don't know what career it will be, but I know I want to help other people," said Mansilla, 18.

Myles Hollingsworth, center, NAACP New York State Youth & College president,...

Myles Hollingsworth, center, NAACP New York State Youth & College president, speaks about how he got involved in gun safety during the inaugural Gen-Z Civic Leadership Summit on Saturday at Farmingdale State College. Credit: Dawn McCormick

The group listened to a panel of half a dozen young people who were dedicating themselves to causes.

Myles Hollingsworth talked about being 13 years old when he learned that his parents were near the outdoor music festival in Las Vegas, where a shooter killed 60 people and wounded more than 400 others in 2017.

"It was traumatizing, it was depressing," said Hollingsworth, 19, who lives in Freeport. "I didn't know whether my parents were coming home."

His parents were not injured, but the massacre stirred his desire to become involved in gun safety issues. 

"I remember googling 'How do I solve gun violence?' " he said.

He joined the NAACP's Freeport-Roosevelt branch in 2018, and helped create the group's youth council a year later. 

"Along the way I learned more about the community — that it was low-resourced, economically disadvantaged and felt politically ostracized," Hollingsworth said. He currently serves as the president of the youth and college division of the New York State NAACP, he said.

Another panelist, Ahmed Perez of Brentwood, recalled the moment when the service bug bit him, and he realized how right it felt to care for others.

Perez, 21, had become involved a few years ago in a local effort to bring a skate park and other renovations to Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, a site that had been treated for toxic waste. 

Perez now works for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he serves as a special assistant for climate justice, he said.

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