Name: Konrad Mueller
Day job: USC student
Organization of choice: Coaching Corps, which places student volunteers in local low income communities to coach after school sports.
I volunteer three days a week. This is my first time working with Coaching Corp. I have a team of eight kids that I couch in youth basketball. We practice twice a week and then we have games on Saturdays. The age group I’m working with is 12 and 13. There are seven boys and one girl.
I volunteer with eight other students from USC. A buddy of mine was volunteering at another gym and mentioned it offhandedly. Now I look forward to it every week.
I volunteered because a lot of people neglect the community around USC, and I have always felt a need to give back. A lot of the kids I’m coaching come from families that have rough backgrounds or parents that aren’t home all the time. They have a lack of consistency and support at home. For a lot of them, the gym is their home.
I spend my volunteer time practicing basketball fundamentals and teaching the kids about the sport. At the same time, I try to focus on reiterating the importance of school and asking these kids how they are. I try to connect with them on a personal level. It’s a mix of basketball and being a friend, someone they can talk to.
I donate just my time: four hours a week for eight weeks. Outside of gas, I haven’t had any out-of-pocket costs.
In return, I’ve gained an awesome appreciation for the youthful innocence that the kids bring. It’s easy for me to get lost at USC with studying and worrying about things, and then these kids come in with such positive attitudes and their upbeat outlook.
From one volunteer to another, I’d say make it personal. If you are going to work with kids, be a friend to them. It’s easier than I thought it would be to connect because the kids aren’t afraid to share. It’s been amazing.
RELATED: Read our Q&A with L.A. philanthropist Patrick Soon-Shiong
Los Angeles magazine’s “Public Service Announcement” series features a local volunteer every other week at CityThink