Jazmin Arguelles Diaz

2021 Amazing Kids - Herald-Pioneer – Canby

Age: 15
School: Canby High School
Hometown: Canby, Or
Why she is Amazing: Diaz is amazing because she has found a love of volunteerism and making connections that she hopes to continue.

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Exercising the joys of volunteerism

There’s a joy that comes over 15-year-old Jazmin (Jazzy) Arguelles Diaz when she finds an opportunity to fill a need or volunteer her time on a worthy cause.

It’s a joy that must be a family trait, as the volunteer DNA in Diaz most certainly sprang from a mother who is always busy. It’s because of that joy and desire to exercise her volunteerism that Diaz has been named the 2021 Pamplin Media Group Amazing Kid for the Canby area.

Diaz, a freshman at Canby High School, puts it simply, “I really like helping people.” It’s something that “Jazzy” inherited from her mother, whom she helps with the local nonprofit Bridging Cultures.

It’s a way of living that was ingrained at an early age and something Diaz continues to shine at. While she’s still involved in online education this year, there’s plenty of examples of how involved she likes to be under normal circumstances. She was part of Baker-Prairie Middle School’s AVID program, could recently be found in the BPMS parking lot helping arrange COVID-19 testing for community members, helped with World Culture Night at BPMS and much, much more.

Diaz finds inspiration to get involved from those around her.

“For me, my real inspiration has been my friends, along with my mom,” Diaz said. “They helped me a lot throughout many years so I want to repay that. I try to do that with others so I can continue spreading that kindness all over.

“Kindness and acceptance are important to me. I live in a very small Latino community and sometimes I don’t feel accepted as (Latino). My friends have always accepted me and loved me for who I am. When they accept me, it’s a comforting feeling — a feeling I like experiencing. I like it when others feel that, too.”

To do that, she wants to help bridge cultures in her everyday life. Volunteering and getting involved is one way to bring that about, she said. The recent COVID-19 testing is an example.

“It’s a struggle for a lot of people to get the tests. A lot in my (Latino) community really struggle with understanding everything,” she said. “When they see someone who is part of them, they are more accepting of it. By seeing me out there, they can feel comfortable.”

That’s one of the things that she enjoys about Bridging Cultures. At events the group puts on, her involvement allows Diaz the chance to get to know people, to experience that spice of life from other places and make connections that would otherwise be impossible.

“Making connections with people is important,” she said. “There are barriers for some people. People may not speak English very well, and with differing races, they might feel out of place. Making the connection with them helps with that.”

Diaz has found, like many students across the state, that going to school during the pandemic has been filled with challenges. She’s had to face them and admits that she has struggled not being able to interact with friends on a daily basis.

But through emails, spending time with an uncle that lives with her and her mom, and playing golf when she can, she’s been able to hang in there and keep moving forward. She even credited the recent ice storm with forging a stronger bond with her mom.

“She’s really busy, but because of the ice storm, we had to stay together for two days,” Diaz said. “We got to hang out and really communicate and that helped us come together a bit more.”

Through it all, she hasn’t lost that desire to get involved. At some point she knows she’ll be a regular student at Canby High again, roaming the halls with other teenagers — friends and soon-to-be friends. When that happens, she said she’ll look for opportunities to volunteer again.

“I don’t have a solid plan for the future, but I do know that I want to continue to help a lot of people,” Diaz said. “If there is a place that needs volunteers, I can see if I can help with that.” As for being named an “Amazing Kid,” she admitted that when she first saw the email she was “shocked and surprised.” But she also knows where the desire to help others comes from.

“My mom does a lot of things for a lot of people, so I’m kind of following her in that,” Diaz said. “I like the feeling of helping people when they are in need. That’s my mom in me.”