High school student Camaron Engels reached out to ONE board member Bobby Shriver to discuss extreme poverty during a recent Santa Monica City Council meeting, of which Mr. Shriver is councilmember. In this blog post, Camaron shares his experience.
As the time for me to enter the Santa Monica City Council chamber approached, beads of sweat began to form on my forehead. Nerves? Not me, after all, I am an actor, so I am used to speaking in front of large groups of people. Somehow, last Tuesday night felt different. Was it because I was about to speak my own words and that they meant so much to me? Was it because the issues I wished to highlight were so important? Was I concerned I might disappoint ONE board member, (RED) co-founder and Councilmember Bobby Shriver, who had been so kind to me throughout the process of bringing our petition before the council? I believe my slight case of the jitters was a result of all these factors.
Watch the video of Camaron speaking at the event here:
I was about to address the Santa Monica mayor and City Council members on behalf of the ONE chapter I founded at my high school, New Roads, in Santa Monica, three years ago when I was in the ninth grade.
The eight members of our chapter and I worked throughout last year getting signatures on a petition requesting that the City of Santa Monica declare itself a ONE City, joining 130 other cities around the country that had already raised their voices in support of ONE’s causes. To our amazement, chasing individual holdouts around our campus and at every athletic event turned out to be an effective strategy! We eventually got each one of the 377 students at our school to sign our petition, and we so proud of this achievement.
Councilmember Shriver agreed to sponsor our petition and to bring it before the City Council for a vote. It felt somewhat ironic to present our petition to one of the founders of ONE. However, Councilmember Shriver graciously accepted our petition, although he could not suppress a grin or two, especially when I began telling him about ONE’s current campaigns – not surprisingly, he said he was already familiar.
I was still nervous as I reached the podium and began speaking. Even though I had not planned to use notes, I was relieved that I had written down my thoughts – I definitely needed that paper on this night. The mayor and council members were welcoming and warm. They moved my comments up on the meeting agenda, because the actual motion and vote were not going to occur until around midnight. They made several jokes about getting me out of the meeting early so I could do my homework. It was a good thing, too, because I had a huge stack waiting for me at home.
Once I got home, I had a difficult time concentrating on my work, as at least half my focus was on the meeting, which was being streamed live on the Internet. I took a break and listened to the item come to a vote; Councilmember Shriver spoke eloquently about ONE, and I warmed with pride reflecting on the efforts of each member of our New Roads Chapter — efforts that had made this moment a reality. I cannot articulate how it felt to see that our voices all joined together had truly made a difference. It is amazing to think that our group is responsible for bringing awareness about ONE to the citizens of Santa Monica, and that as a result, many more people will join the fight to help the neediest people in the world. This evening was definitely one of the highlights of my high school experience. Watch the video, it tells the story better than I can.
-Camaron Engels, ONE Member, California
Please leave Camaron a nice note in the comments below and let him know that he did a job well done!