by Alexa Cox For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a passion for volunteering. I started my “volunteer career” at a very young age. I first started volunteering for the Lupus Alliance of Long Island/Queens and later become a youth advocate for them. I’ve spoke with state senators to promote Lupus funding and awareness. In 2014 I traveled with the Lupus Alliance organization to the Capitol Building to receive a proclamation making May “Lupus Awareness Month.” Besides from being an advocate, I’ve also volunteered every year at the annual Walk-Along for Lupus. This year we’re looking forward to celebrating not only, our 26th Walk, but our 6th annual 5k Run. It is Mother’s day, May 12th at Central Islip high school. Another organization I’ve assisted over the years is the NAACP Islip Town Youth group. After being a member for many years I became secretary in fifth grade. My favorite event would have to be the “Back to School, Stay in School Rally”. Every summer since the first one in 2009, I’ve helped hand out backpacks filled with free school supplies to children in my community. The NAACP’s main goal for each event is to have it relate to one of the six “game changers”. These are the topics that we feel need the most attention in our communities. These topics include: economic sustainability, education, health, public safety and criminal justice, voting rights and political representation and lastly, expanding youth and young adult engagement. After college, I hope to join the adult branch and continue to make positive change in my community. The third organization that I’ve worked with is Reality Check of Long Island. This organization is all about spreading awareness of Big Tobacco’s marketing techniques toward youth. More specifically, youth of minority backgrounds. Currently, our goal is to make it illegal to feature drugs and/or tobacco products in movies that have a rating lower than “R”. This is to prevent subliminal messages from encouraging children and teens that it is “ok” to smoke or use drugs. Lastly, my proudest accomplishment would be winning the title of Miss Long Island Teen 2018 and creating my platform “Communities Against Drugs and Gang Violence”. I’ve spent the last year bringing awareness to my platform by speaking with local law enforcement and asking for their help with creating a drug and gang violence prevention program. I’m currently working with the Suffolk County Sheriff, Errol Toulon, to write a proposal to send to the County Executive, Steve Bellone, to ask for funding for the creation of our program. For the past couple of months I’ve been on the lookout for youth based organizations on Long Island to partner up with. So far I’ve been in communication with YES (youth enrichment services), NAACP Youth Council, Heroin Prevention Task Force, Adelante of Suffolk County, the Economic Opportunity Council (EOC) of Suffolk and many more. All of these organizations offer at least one of the three programs that I am looking for: after school programs, jobs/job training and mentorships. In my opinion, these are the three main programs that help prepare young adults for a successful future. With the help of my community members I believe that this program will be a huge success. I plan to continue researching youth based organizations on Long Island and hope to have the proposal completed before the end of summer.