While some teens are saving up their dollars for prom dresses, Summit Preparatory High School student Emily Jones is saving hers up for a trip to India - and no, it's not a vacation.
Emily is a member of the Young Dreamer Network, whose teen members are currently raising money to travel to India to volunteer their time bettering some of the nation's most impoverished communities.
The Young Dreamer Network is an nonprofit organization that exists to empower teens to become difference-makers in the community and world-wide, Emily explained.
"What first caught my eye about the Young Dreamer Network was that its main goal is to help others," Emily told Patch. "We spend about one or two weekends a month doing service projects around Redwood City and the Bay Area."
"The Young Dreamer Network takes annual trips to impoverished areas in an effort to help support local communities. Last year we traveled to Provenience De Dota in Costa Rica," she said. "While we were there we rebuilt the main roads and taught the students. It was an amazing, eye-opening experience that changed the way many of us viewed our world."
Sam Sobell, another local teen, remembers the trip he took to Guatemala with the Young Dreamer Network two summers ago.
"We stayed with host families during the visit and ate our meals with them, talking about life in their village and life in the U.S.," he said. "During the day we worked on paving a road that consistently gave the villagers trouble when they would try to haul the coffee they grew to the market. We also spent some time touring one of the villager’s coffee fields learning about how he switched to organic farming methods and helping to dig trenches to stop erosion."
Emily said, the group's upcoming trip to India will focus on helping the community's educational opportunities.
"While we are there, we are planning on helping to build a school so that the local students have a place to get an education," she explained.
Sam and Emily say, they are looking forward to their trip, but are deep in the process of raising enough funds to make that possible right now.
"It's a much more difficult goal [than raising the money needed for our previous trip]," Sam said. "We need to redouble our fundraising efforts."
The local group has set up a fundraising site through Indiegogo.com.
"We [are] greatly appreciative [of anyone that can help] contribute a small amount to the campaign to help us get to India," Sam said. "Additionally, if we raise anything above what we need to travel to India, the rest will go to the scholarships we provide to the Young Dreamers in other countries."
When the members of Young Dreamer Network aren't traveling the globe helping foreign communities, they are working on service projects right here in Redwood City, such as collecting food for the hungry and teaching children to read at local libraries.
Visit the Young Dreamer Network's fundraising site at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-young-dreamer-network/x/2383396.
Watch the video above to hear Emily Jones herself talk about her work with the Young Dreamer Network locally and around the world.
What do you think of the work these local teens are doing to help underprivileged communities around the world? Tell us in the comments.
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