My Breakthrough Experience

By Gabi Lirio

“Give us one week, and we will change your life.”

This quote was sent over and over the weeks preceding Key Club International’s first ever Breakthrough service-immersion project in Miami, Florida. Before the project, it seemed so cliche, but now, it is the most fitting phrase of words for this weeklong project.

While in Miami, nineteen Key Clubbers including myself and four Kiwanis Leaders completed four service projects in all across Miami-Dade County. Our first project was at the Miami Children’s Museum; here we met with the Manager of Guest Relations and learned about running a nonprofit. Another Key Clubber and I were paired with a volunteer at the museum and we helped clean the museum grounds.

Our next project was at the Chapman Partnership which is a shelter for those with emergent homelessness. Our group was split in two, half worked in preparing and serving dinner and the other half conducted a field day for the resident children. I was one of the groups who served the meal which allowed me to interact with all of the residents. Through this interaction, I saw so many different types of people who were very thankful for everything that was happening at this center.

We then met at Centro Campesino which is a migrant farmworker community that helps give migrant farmworkers the voice they deserve. At the community, we went to their resident center and played Bingo with their residents.

Our last service project was at the Miami WOW Center which is a center for adults with disabilities. Here at this center, we were able to attend their Aktion Club meeting. We were then paired with an Aktion Club member and painted their parking stoppers bright green. I was paired with a Cuban man named Pedro because I was able to communicate with him through Spanish. This was a very neat experience because we connected through our shared Cuban Heritage and our love for service.

We also went to the Miami-Dade County City Hall and had a conference with the Miami Chief Service Officer as well as the Miami Education Policy Advisor. These two men taught us about Miami’s history as well as its future, which they both stated are its youth.

Each night, we would end with a group session discussing the impact our day had on us and the impact we made on our service sites. Breakthrough allowed me to serve a community completely different than my own, and through serving this unfamiliar community, I learned endless amounts of things about myself and servant leadership. I made connections and lasting friendships with Key Clubbers and Kiwanis Leaders from across North America. I recommend anyone who is passionate about service and leadership to apply for Breakthrough 2018, as Breakthrough is growing to 40 participants next year.