There are many extracurricular activities available for students at Delhi High School, but one in particular has given a group of students a chance to make a difference in the small community.
The Helping Hawks, a community service club on campus, began with a simple task in mind: reach out and help the homeless. But, in the five years since the club was formed, the club has taken on much more.
“The club has really become a go-to within the district and the community,” said club adviser Matthew Ward. “They look at us as a reliable group of students are able to step in when needed.”
Along with preparing meals for the homeless community of the We Care Program in Turlock, the Helping Hawks spend time cleaning up the DHS campus, providing childcare for parents at the school district’s monthly informational meetings and helping out at events, such as the firefighters’ pancake breakfast and Love Delhi, the town’s annual day of community service.
“It’s a way to show kids that they have a say in what happens in their community,” said Helping Hawks member Selene Marin. “We can make a change; it’s up to us to make Delhi a better place for ourselves and the people who come to visit.”
Marin, now a senior, joined the club her freshman year after the lifelong Delhi resident noticed what a change the club was making within the community.
“It’s about finding new ways to help people, not just giving money or stuff like that,” said Marin. “It’s nice to see how people look at the things we’ve done and say thank you.”
Marin not only participates in the community service opportunities available through the Helping Hawks, but also donates her time to the special needs students from the Merced County Special Education Program at DHS. Marin and about ten other club members spend their lunches with the students, reading books, playing sports outside and playing video games.
“Just being with them and letting them know that they have a friend other than their classmates makes them happy and it makes me happy,” said Marin.
For DHS alumni and current Stanislaus State student Ramon Murillo, the Helping Hawks club and its association with the special needs students introduced him to his passion. He joined the club during his final year in high school simply because all of his friends were members, but when a special needs instructor gave a speech to the club letting them know how much the department could use their help, Murillo was inspired.
“Basically half of the time during my senior year was spent helping the special needs students,” said Murillo.
Murillo spent every lunch hour, first period, second period and his teacher’s assistant period with the students, and he soon realized that he wanted to turn his love for them into a career. Now a sophomore at Stanislaus State, Murillo is studying to earn a bachelor’s degree in Child Development with an emphasis in Special Education. He was also hired as an instructional aide for the high school’s special needs program in October 2015.
Murillo’s success in the field inspired Marin, who hopes to one day become a special needs instructor as well.
“When I decided that I wanted to become a special needs teacher, Ramon was the first person I went to to help me out,” said Marin.
Since its start, the Helping Hawks club has grown from a group of about 13 students to now providing over 60 students with opportunities to help out the community. For Marin, the rewards of the program and spending time with students who need a friend is incredibly rewarding.
“Being with them is just a joy.”