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   WZM Award for Compassion 


WZM Award





WZM Award presented to Zoe Marie Diaz-Sainz - JAMES A. GARFIELD HIGH SCHOOL







Compassion means to show and demonstrate empathy and concern to other individuals. To be compassionate is to comfort others while they are suffering without wanting nor expecting anything in return. Having compassion is important in our society today because it enables us to gain a better understanding of one’s situation. This understanding then leads to the desire to help improve their suffering. I for one have had many challenges, but my hardest challenge turned into one of my most rewarding experiences. Growing up, the most significant obstacle I faced was watching my mother endure years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of my drug dependent father. The abuse was ongoing until one night, I witnessed my father nearly drown my mother. It was the terror she saw in my facial expression that finally gave my mother the courage to call the law enforcement. It was at this moment that my life would forever change. Although I felt the world caving in, I did not want to let all the pain I was feeling consume me. I decided to divert my feelings of neglect and heartache into community work. For the last several years, I have volunteered at a Women’s Center. I learned of this organization from my mother, who had previously received domestic violence services there. Volunteering at the women's center was my way of giving back to an organization that had greatly helped my family. Although I went in with a positive attitude, I was also apprehensive because I knew I would be reminded about my past, which I never truly felt comfortable talking about. I was first a tutor who helped children with assignments they needed assistance with. As time progressed, I felt eager to interact with adolescents who had experienced the same hardships as I. Soon after, I began to notice that the more assistance I provided these children with, the more they opened up to me about their situation. Having received therapy for a continuum of two years, I learned how to cope and manage any unresolved issues I had, which ultimately allowed me to become a resource to others. With the help of the program director, I was able to form a peer impact program which was designated to help provide support and mentor adolescents. During group sessions, I was able to share and discuss my own story. I was able to share aspects of my life that I had not revealed to my closest friends. As difficult as it was to open up to strangers, I had learned through years of therapy that my experiences were shared by others. Ultimately, I came to the realization that our group conversation was not only therapeutic for myself but for everyone in our group. Volunteering at the women’s center has enabled me to come to the realization that I can still learn from my struggles and be empathetic towards someone who has experienced or is experiencing the same obstacles.


Ruth Ratna Handy, LCSW
(818) 834-5925


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