Week 5: Taking a LEAP Towards Volunteering

Matthew Lee of the 2019 CAUSE Leadership Academy

This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at LEAP’s Annual Gala. At first, when the volunteer opportunity was posted, I was hesitant to sign myself up because, as an introvert, night time is usually the time I spend recharging my battery. However, it has been continuously urged that volunteering is a wonderful way to get involved in the API community, especially in Los Angeles.

I was encouraged by the amazing CAUSE staff members and individuals in my CLA cohort to volunteer that evening, and I am so glad I did it.

Immediately, when I arrived at the venue in Little Tokyo, I saw a dear family friend whose son I grew up with. We gave each other hugs and took a selfie to send to my mother. Truly, everyone in the Los Angeles API community knows each other. Everyone knows everyone. In fact, that same family friend is the one that suggested I apply to CAUSE’s Leadership Academy program.

After we parted ways, I saw CAUSE staff members, CAUSE board members, guests that CAUSE brought to our CLA workshops, more family friends, and my fellow CLA interns. I was amazed to see how much of a presence CAUSE has in our community.

I also had the chance to catch up with Kim Yamasaki and update her on my internship, the Sacramento trip, and my newly dyed purple hair. She was supportive of everything, even as I mentioned I was worried that my colored hair would be deemed “unprofessional” in the workplace. She loved it!

Matthew Lee and Amanda Yuen of the 2019 CAUSE Leadership Academy volunteering at the annual LEAP Gala

Not only did I see many familiar faces, but I also met many new people. I was able to quickly bond with the seven LEAP interns and learn about what they are doing during the summer. I am always amazed to see so many other people who are both API and my age passionate about bringing change to their community. Our conversations were rich with internships, post-college life, near-post-college life, grad school, social passions, and Gen Z humor-like memes.

Between every fruitful conversation, I worked my volunteering station while enjoying food, desserts, and boba. The night ended with Amanda, another CLA intern, and I dancing to the wonderful jazz band playing all of my favorites, like Amy Winehouse’s Valarie. I am so grateful for CAUSE giving us an opportunity to not only volunteer, but to meet amazing people at an amazing event.