He Volunteers Anywhere He Can Find
by Sarah Binns
The first thing that struck me about Ruben Arciniega was a sense of maturity that far exceeds his years. A long-time member of the Troutdale Library Teen Council, the 16-year-old is already enrolled at Mt. Hood Community College through his high school, achieving high school and college credit for his classes. Pair his challenging coursework with an active volunteering schedule and you have a smart, confident, compassionate young man who is destined to go far--both in the Portland community and beyond.
Ruben initially got involved in the Summer Reading program and the teen council to gain volunteer hours for school. But then, he says, “I started doing more volunteering and realized I really liked it. On Troutdale’s teen council one of Ruben’s roles is to “make everyone feel comfortable,” which led him to create a fun icebreaker to put his peers at ease. He helps the council plan monthly youth-centric events that include everything from an annual Batman party to a visiting game truck, which gives kids who don’t have the resources for video games a chance to play to their heart’s content. “We also do a cyber-bullying event to provide awareness and help for people,” he says. “It’s very fun and rewarding to see how many people are positively affected by what we do.”
Ruben also frequently volunteers at Cherry Park Plaza, an elder care facility, and “anywhere else that I can find,” he says. His community is as impressed with Ruben’s service as I am, and in late June he was honored with a 2017 Volunteer Award from Multnomah County for his involvement in the library.
When I ask what Ruben is interested in pursuing as a career he says he’s undecided, but he finds criminal justice “very intriguing.” For the time-being he has his hands full: “It’s a tough schedule,” he says. “School, volunteering, and trying to find a job. When I do find time to myself I just relax. In the summer I have a lot more time to actually be a kid.” As a fantastic “kid” or an adult, I am confident we will see more of Ruben on the Portland community stage in the future.
A few facts about Ruben:
Home library: Troutdale
Currently reading: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. “I was told it would be a good book for me because it’s kind of weird. It’s definitely interesting.”
Most influential book: “I’ve read a couple of books for my literature class that were interesting and changed my perspective. The Prince by Machiavelli is one. It definitely changed my perspective on leadership.”
Favorite book from childhood: The Hungry Little Caterpillar. “It successfully enhanced my creativity as a kid.”
Favorite browsing section: “Usually if I’m thinking about a certain subject, I’ll just look for that book in the database. I’ll just go in the library and ask where are the books on cooking.”
E-reader or paper: “Paper, definitely. It feels right.”
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! Read last month's Volunteer Spotlight.