Located in the city of Patterson, New Jersey is a small building called Oasis. Founded a few years ago by my grandmother, Ann Wagner, it is a haven for women and children. Poverty runs rampant here and Oasis is a refuge where battered and women in need can not only get a hot meal, but also education. (Oasis offers computer training and English language classes.) They even have a fully stocked wardrobe that can be borrowed from when the women have job interviews. Oasis goes above and beyond other food kitchens in the area.
I am incredibly proud to continue the family tradition of volunteering at Oasis. I love helping because everyone there is so appreciative for all they are given. It is easy to get lost in the sea of Coach bags and North Face fleeces that fill the hallways of my school, but going to Oasis gives me insight into how others live.
Every year a dinner dance is held where people generously donate money to keep this organization alive. People are always very giving and Oasis will soon have enough money to expand. I help to raise money for this wonderful place and I hope never to see it close as long as a need exists.
Oasis is the best example I have ever found of the advice that counsels, “if you give a man a fish he eats for a day, if you teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime.” The staff and volunteers at Oasis will never give up on those whom they help, and I am honored to be part of it.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.