At one time, Donna Como was a mother who brought her children to Striving To Achieve & Reach Success, Inc. (STARS) youth center so they could participate in various activities. She was so impressed with the operation at STARS after a short period of time and decided she wanted to take a more active role. Como asked how she could contribute to the program, and since then she has become an integral part of the STARS team.
Initially, Como was the moderator for Girl Talk, and for the past few years she has been the Arts & Crafts instructor. Como has also become a role model for the STARS membership as well as for the residents for the community of Howard Beach, New York. STARS is run solely by volunteers and survives on donations, so they are delighted to have Como as a dedicated volunteer.
Every other Saturday, Como meets with a group of young people and helps them turn ordinary items into works of art in the Arts & Crafts program offered at STARS. She helps the youth develop their creativity and imagination as well as providing an outlet for the children to express themselves. They are also improving their listening and cooperation skills while participating in the program. When the projects are completed, the young people feel pride and accomplishment. Their time with Como helps to improve their self-esteem; they see they are capable of being “finishers” and they are able to create.
Como takes it upon herself to pay for all of the materials she uses for the arts class. She has helped STARS tremendously by this donation as it allows the children to continue to have the class when there may be little income or funds available from other sources.
Como has also recruited her mother and sister to volunteer with STARS; it is now a volunteering family affair. They act as her assistants in the Arts & Crafts program. As the program has grown, Como has also enlisted the age of her teenage daughter and pre-teen son. She is teaching them the value of giving back to the community while also giving them the opportunity to grow themselves.