This week, we asked Kristen Chang to be the subject of our weekly Women Wednesday blog post. Kristen was a camper in 2014 and 2015. As a second year this past summer, Kristen's kind heart and outspokenness made her a strong and compassionate community leader. Her love of song, poetry, and the arts enriched the lives of those around her. Throughout the summer, Kristen simultaneously helped campers feel comfortable while encouraging them to move past their comfort zones.
Kristen is currently a senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. We asked her about an organization she recently started, as well as for some advice for young people looking to make a difference. Here's what she had to say.
I have been privileged enough to have spent two summers at Camp Rising Sun (’14-’15). My urge to help my community was only strengthened by my time at Camp, empowering me to do things I once felt were beyond my reach. I am the founder of a public-speaking club that focuses on self-improvement over competition, sponsored by Toastmasters International. Recently, I was voted as epee captain of the varsity fencing team (go Vipers!). In addition, during the past two years, I have been on the Events Committee of Stuyvesant’s National Honor Society (ARISTA), leading volunteers at events like Walk for Alzheimer’s or stitching surgical dolls for hospitalized children.
My involvement in ARISTA and my love for community service urged me to start my own charity, Love Buds. Love Buds is an organization that repurposes flowers left over from weddings or sales and donates them to hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes. I was introduced to the concept through a news video I’d seen, and when I found that there were no such groups in New York City, I started my own.
There is an epidemic of loneliness among those in nursing homes and hospitals. The gifting of flowers as a token of thoughtfulness and appreciation have been proven to garner positive reactions and comfort.
Whilst at camp, a counselor of mine shared this piece of philosophy with me: We build something we love then break it down, because love will always come back, just in a different form. I think of this each time I pull apart centerpieces from weddings. I think of this each time I visit a nursing home, dropping off bouquets propped with the same stems but designed with different intentions. Through repurposed flowers, love is taking new forms.
I was always told that being scared to do something meant it mattered to you. So long as you follow through with it, fear of failure is inconsequential. Camp instilled in me the confidence necessary to better my contributions and to take initiative in all that I do. I’ve been taught to take the chance, if it means improving the world around me even in the slightest. The approach to taking initiative should not be, “Perhaps somebody else will act on this.” Instead, we should ask, “What if nobody ever acts on this?”
Love Buds is currently looking for a non-profit to partner with to expand our floral donations and our mission. Spread the flowers, recycle the love (and like us on Facebook)!
Thank you, Kristen, for all that you've given to Camp and all that you're continuing to give to your community. We at LAJF wish you the best of luck in the future, and we can't wait to see what you'll do next.