Sarah Young

Photo from Sarah Young

Between going for her master’s degree in criminology and working part time as a financial planner, Sarah Young has very little free time. And when she’s not working or studying, Young spends up to 20 hours a week volunteering with Hawaii Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), a statewide organization that focuses on leadership development through service.

Locally, the organization is comprised of several chapters, and also is affiliated with national and international Jaycees. Young first joined the Honolulu Chinese chapter of the Jaycees about three years ago after a coworker convinced her to attend a meeting.

“When I first joined, it was more for work.

As a financial adviser, it is a good idea to network and meet new people,” Young says. “But after a few months I realized that it was more about giving back to the community rather than networking.”

Early on, Young jumped into a number of the group’s projects, the first of which was the Healthy Baby Contest. Soon after that she began working on the Adopt-A-School Day program, which mobilizes businesses and groups to conduct beautification or other service projects with local schools. As a past chairwoman of the project, Young has been responsible for recruiting local businesses to adopt schools. In addition, each Jaycee chapter adopts a school and creates a project according to its needs. During Young’s time with the group, it adopted Hoo Cho Chinese School to help improve the school’s landscape by pulling weeds and planting flowers. They also repaired old desks in the classrooms. The Honolulu Chinese chapter also has adopted Kauluwela Elementary School, where it repainted the parking lot and installed stone benches in the yard.

“The Adopt-A-School Day project reaches a lot of people,” Young says, “and you really see the impact of what you are doing.”

In addition to these service projects, Young has participated in the Jaycees’ Speak Up and Write Up competitions. After winning district and state events for each, Young traveled to Iowa in June to compete in nationals. She won those, too, and will represent the country in an international round this year.

Young also has been active in recruiting and guiding new members of her chapter, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary next month. In the future, she hopes to work with international chapters of the Jaycees on an art exchange project for youths.

“I want to be there to see things grow,” Young says. “I hope to be able to get more members involved … An important part of that is just engaging them and laying the groundwork for them.

“I think the organization itself is really good, and I would want to be able to be more active in helping the organization grow and just keep doing what we are doing.”