Acceptance Speech

The President’s Volunteer Service Award

2022-23 Awardees’ Acceptance Speech

William Youm: South Pasadena HighSchool 10th Grade

Hello, my name is William Youm. Currently, I am studying in South Pasadena HighSchool. It is a great honor for me to receive The President Volunteer Service Award. I have learned a great deal while serving this community. My volunteer service is focused on guiding the young musical talents that have recently joined the musical field. It is my heartfelt wish to keep on serving this beautiful community, and I plan on continuing to guide the young musical talents. One thing I learned is that everyone has a unique and different approach to learning. I am not the best cellist, neither am I spectacularly great at teaching. Nevertheless, it has been an enjoyable experience.  I learned that my time in community service was well spent. Although it was hard because I would come to volunteer with a new injury almost every time from my practice sessions in Judo . I really enjoyed teaching the youths that I am responsible for, they remind me of myself when I was young because they would always ask for the time. From my volunteering journey, I remember having to engage in a battle of rock, paper, scissors with them, so that they would listen and it was quite funny. I would like to thank everybody for this wonderful opportunity. I will cherish it from the bottom of my heart. I hope to continue learning, teaching, and developing with everyone else. Once again, thank you for everything, I hope you have a great day, and I wish you great luck on your endeavors.

Denali Xia: Mira Costa High School 11th Grade

Truly Honored

I feel greatly honored to receive such a prestigious award. The Volunteer Service Award is one that holds a lot of significance because it is based mainly on passion and hard work. Furthermore, the recognition given by our President makes it just that much more noteworthy. Personally, I had a great experience just working with other musicians like me, all working towards the same goal and overall having a good time. For kids like us to receive such recognition is just astounding to me. This award goes to show just how dedicated we were to achieve what we had at the Disney Concert Hall. Everyone worked as a team to ultimately produce the legendary performance we did that night. I learned a lot from this experience and it has helped me tremendously in my self confidence and ensured my capabilities. Another thing that raised my confidence was the volunteer work I did for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which helped raise money for patients with blood cancer. In total, we raised over $630 thousand dollars for people in need. Similar to my experience with the LAYP, LLS has changed me for the better and made my passion ever stronger.

Matthew Wu: Gabrielino High School 10th 

Chicken Arm

I am incredibly honored to have been recognized by the Joe Biden’s Volunteer Service Award. It is such an amazing opportunity to teach kids how to play the cello and I’ve learned a lot. One thing that will stick with me forever is that laughs, and having fun are crucial when teaching a young kid how to play the cello. I still remember when I was teaching my student and he kept lifting up his right arm. Not only is it uncomfortable to keep it lifted for a long time but it would also prevent movement. And I was thinking of ways to fix this problem so what I thought of was to pull up a picture of a chicken and would say “Hey you should keep your arm down or else you’re going to look like this chicken” and then he just laughed and laughed and then after that he got the message and his arm was immediately down. So, based on this experience I could tell that comedy could really solidify a lesson. After this experience, I was inspired to continue teaching young kids, so I actually started the first cello program at the YMCA where I volunteered my time to teach young kids how to play the cello and I could really tell that having fun truly works because when I was teaching them how to play mission impossible I said, “you could use a firework or popper and then start playing the song like in the movies.” And that really inspires them, So really the opportunity to teach young kids is an amazing thing and again I just want to say thank you to Dr. Gene Chung for allowing this opportunity to happen and for receiving this president’s award. Thank you. 

Ayden Kim: Los Angeles County High School for the Arts 10th

Music Transcends Digital Borders

I am very honored to receive the President Volunteer Service Award. In the time I’ve spent tutoring fellow students on the violin, I remember wishing that I could reach out from my Zoom screen and show techniques in person. Other times, my computer’s video quality would drop or lag, and I worried that the students weren’t receiving the feedback that they deserved. The disconnect and the in-home distractions brought on by online learning were tough for me and my peers, but it turns out that our online sessions were also lessons of resilience: holding onto what brings us joy despite less-than-ideal circumstances. For me, it’s the beauty of music and the power it has to unify us. My other volunteer experiences like picking up trash at the beach and tutoring math might not directly involve music, but I hope to share the peace and passion I feel from it through my continued service. Thank you again for presenting me with this significant award.

Arin Kim: Westridge School for Girls 11th Grade

Grateful Opportunity

I want to start off by saying that this is the third President Volunteer Award I have gotten through volunteering at this orchestra. Every time I get one, I am equally grateful and shocked. Grateful that I am given the chance to work with younger students who want to improve and shocked at how quickly time moves every Saturday.

Now, this year marks my eleventh year with this orchestra. And ever since I became a volunteer a few years ago, I’ve always looked forward to meeting new students. For the past few months, I have been lucky enough to work with six students, who have all shown a major improvement. I think, for me, at least, having to consistently do something over and over again is very hard. But when I see the students and the dedication they have for their instrument, it is also really hard to come across those types of thoughts. So, while I am the one teaching them, along with the other volunteers, the students have very much helped me in various ways. 

Of course, every student is different in the way they learn and take in information, but they have always come down to the same conclusion: that I am between the ages of twelve and fifteen. I am seventeen. Though, because of this, I feel like I am able to connect with them a little better as more of a friend than a “scary” highschool volunteer. 

I have done multiple volunteer services in the past two years but I don’t think they were as enjoyable as this weekly orchestra. I vividly remember volunteering at a school for about twenty hours last year, but the experience was just harder for me due to the number of students that needed help. That’s why I feel like being in a class with only a selective amount of people makes it nice and easy for everyone. I not only have the chance to go through important material for the day, but the students also have my full attention for that class time. So, I just really want to say my final thanks to Dr. Chung for giving me this opportunity in the first place and to the students who always bring something new into my volunteering life. Thank you! 

Mckinley Xia: Mira Costa High School 11th


It is with tremendous gratitude that I humbly receive the U.S. President Joe Biden’s Volunteer Service Award. Through the LAYP Donate-Your-Talent Program, I feel honored to be doing the work I enjoy and, at the same time, be recognized by the President with this Award. It was such a great opportunity to be working with the younger musicians within the LAYP Honor Orchestras as we all practiced together and worked toward achieving cohesive playing with musicality. Our hard work culminated in the final concert we performed at the Walt Disney

Concert Hall on July, 8th this summer. In addition to working with the young musicians through the LAYP DYT Program, I also volunteered with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in the Student Visionaries of the Year Program this year. Together, we were able to raise more than $630,000 toward research, education, and advocacy for patients with blood cancer. It is such a worthwhile endeavor to raise money for patients and families in need. Furthermore, what an honor to be awarded while doing these meaningful volunteer work!

Katie Shinogi: Orange County School of the Arts 11th Grade

I am deeply humbled and honored to accept this prestigious Joe Biden presidential award for volunteer service with Los Angeles Youth Philharmonic. As someone who is passionate about sharing the joy of music, this recognition holds a special place in my heart.

My journey in volunteer service has been guided by a simple wish to help and make a difference where I can. I would like to thank Dr. Chung and Los Angeles Youth Philharmonic for the opportunity to make a difference via music. Music has the power to inspire, to uplift, and to transform lives. 

In my experiences, I’ve learned that every child possesses untapped potential, regardless of their background. These music lessons have not only cultivated musical skills, but also fostered discipline, teamwork, and a sense of accomplishment among these students.

While my main focus has been music education, I’ve also been fortunate to contribute to other volunteer services within our community. Some are also music related, and others are not. I have a great appreciation for my own educators who have guided me through life, so I am more than happy to participate in any opportunity to give back.

Allow me to share a story from my volunteering journey. Sometimes, I would be assigned to students that are not in my normal schedule, who do not play instruments I play. However, I was able to create engaging environments, teaching them with my general knowledge of music to have a productive lesson. Despite the fact that I did not play their instrument, I deeply enjoyed my time teaching them. 

In conclusion, I am profoundly grateful for this recognition, which symbolizes not only my commitment but also the shared commitment of countless individuals who strive to make a difference. And, again, a sincere thank you to Dr. Chung and Los Angeles Youth Philharmonic.

Esther Song: Westlake High School 11th

It is an honor to be selected to receive the US President Joe Biden’s award. I also want to thank the LAYP for providing this volunteer opportunity for us. I’ve been involved in other volunteer activities like volunteering at Senior Homes and being part of a Nonprofit Organization called Peace by Piece where we hold concerts every month for the seniors.

As a volunteer for this program, I tutored elementary school students specifically flute and music theory. I provided them assistance on how to get a better tone, taught them notes and rhythm, and practiced sight reading with them. When it comes to music, I realized that it’s all about collaboration, helping and uplifting others. For example, I was teaching one of my students how to get a better tone. There were some times when she got a bit frustrated and discouraged.

However, I was her biggest cheerleader. I supported her every step of the way and the moment she got a clear tone, even if it was just for a split second, she immediately smiled from ear to ear. Throughout this volunteer experience, I found a new love for teaching music and helping my students to grow.

Audrey Yoon: Orange County School of the Arts 10th grade

Giving Back

Hi, my name is Audrey Yoon and I’m a sophomore at Orange County School of the Arts. I am very excited and grateful to be receiving the US President Joe Biden’s award. I love giving back to the community in some type of way because it helps bring everyone close together and creates a beautiful environment. Through the LAYP Volunteer Service Program: Donate-Your-Talent Project, I had the chance to work with younger violinists who might not have had the opportunity to learn elsewhere. I met with them every week and not only was it amazing to see their progress as a violinist, but I also had the chance to get to know them as friends. Through this volunteer service, I learned to be empathetic, thoughtful, organized, and encouraging. I also learned how to be a leader and guide others, which is a crucial part of everyday life. I also had a valuable opportunity to tutor academics to students at my school, make keychains to supply kids with art supplies, and be part of the Orange County JCM Student Service Alliance to further provide opportunities to all types of musicians. All of these major opportunities have really made me appreciate everything I have and taught me that I can make a difference in the lives of others. I am very honored to have my work recognized in this way by The President Volunteer Service Award (PVSA); and at the end of the day, I learned that even a small act of kindness can be life-changing for others. Thank you.

Ethan Saldana: Flintridge Preparatory School 9th 

 My Volunteer Experience

Hello, my name is Ethan Saldana and I attend Flintridge Prep High School in La Canada. Although I do not currently volunteer at LAYP, I did volunteer at my old school, Pasadena Christian School. 1-2 days a week, I would offer my services to the younger students after or before school. To successfully use their instruments, they would need to be taught the basics of music theory, how to read and play music, and finally the basics of their instrument. This is where I came in. While Dr. Chung was busy teaching other students, I would be one-on-one with different students, catering to their personal needs and progress. Even though I am only familiar with the violin and viola, I was still able to teach students of other instruments due to the universal basis of music theory.

Throughout the course of the program, I learned to be more compassionate, patient, and detailed. I also realized that I had to further break down and better phrase what I was trying to teach for it to make sense in the students’ minds. I got to meet a lot of new people and through this program, I got to better understand the students as well as the orchestra as a whole.

Besides my music volunteer services, I often participated in an organization called Operation Gratitude. Operation Gratitude is a foundation that packs and ships boxes full of essentials to military personnel, first responders, and other essential workers. The packing parties usually occur every month or so and I’ve been with the organization for 2 years now. Another part of the Operation Gratitude volunteer program is the Paracord bracelets. These are strong multi-use bracelets that are hand-made and given to military personnel. Every so often, I would make some with my mom and we would give them to Operation Gratitude to then be packed and shipped. 

Overall, this experience has been very enjoyable and has proved extremely valuable. And of course, I wouldn’t have been able to get this far without the help of my incredible instructor and mentor, Dr. Chung. He has helped me grow my musical abilities and succeed in music so much that I was able to offer my knowledge in programs like this.

Joseph Kim: Walter Reed Middle School 8th

Hello Everyone, my name is Joseph Kim, an 8th grader at Walter Reed Middle School.

It is a great honor to receive Joe Biden’s Volunteer Service Award. I am deeply thankful for being recognized because of my service, and I hope to do much more in the future. Dr. Chung has done so much work and planning to get us all to this point, and I am so thankful for the opportunities he has made possible for me.

Volunteer service is often misunderstood.  Helping others, helping yourself grow, creating moments to remember. That is volunteer service. Volunteer service is not just getting hours to report. Volunteer service has so many aspects, but the one I focused on the most was helping kids. By helping others grow, helping kids learn their instruments, I learned a valuable lesson as well.  Everything works out better when you do it with a good mind. It’s hard at first, but eventually it will come naturally.

Volunteer service is like a seed, a seed that when bloomed, can change you. Volunteer service can change you for the better, and change the world.

I am glad that I was able to grow through volunteer service, and I wish to continue to grow and help others. Once again, I am deeply thankful to everyone that made this possible.

Thank You.

Chaewon Kim: North Hollywood High School 9th

I am honored to be receiving The President Volunteer Service Award. This year has been my first time serving for the LA Korean Youth Orchestra for beginning and intermediate classes, and it has been a great experience helping young children to start their musical journey. I have been volunteering on Saturdays for in-person lessons to help with the violins. Although I was the one teaching, I learned many  things such as being a more effective communicator and more deliberate about my word choices. It was nice getting to know the children not just as their volunteer, but also as an older friend whom they could recall all of the activities they have done over the week. Although I haven’t spent years with them, the proudness I felt as I watched them slowly improve in their techniques and gain confidence was nevertheless present. The hours with them also brought up old memories when I was in their stage of learning. In addition to the orchestra, I also participated in Awana and Pacific CBAS and Korean Culture Center over the summer as well. Once again, I am very grateful, especially Dr. Chung for making this opportunity possible, to be able to participate in this program. Thank you.

Geeyou Lee: South Pasadena High School 12th 

Going Back Full Circle

I am so honored to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Through LAYP’s Donate-Your-Talent club, I was given the opportunity to tutor students learning how to play the violin. Though at first I was unsure of how to teach, I  was able to quickly find better methods of teaching. I enjoyed being able to not only guide these young musicians, but to also personally connect with them. The highlight of my service was when I saw the students I had tutored for over a year play during the end of semester recital. I was so proud of how much they’ve improved, watching them carefully execute their memorized pieces. 

I personally found this opportunity meaningful because I was once a student under this program 10 years ago. I remember struggling just as much. I also remember gaining more confidence and improving my skills thanks to the wonderful volunteers. After joining this program, I was pleased to have gone full circle: giving back to the same program that I have received so much from. 

In addition to this program, I have also dedicated time to my community library, school, and church. I would like to give special thanks to Dr. Chung, who has helped many students, such as myself. Thank you all once again. I am truly grateful to receive this award.

eJenn Huang: Orion International Academy 11th Grade

I am very grateful to receive the US President Joe Biden’s award. I am very honored to have all my hard work recognized by the US President Volunteer Award(PVSA). Thank you to LAYP DYT for arranging this volunteer opportunity. Thank you to my parents for supporting me throughout these past few years in my music journey. Thank you to my violin teacher who has taught me for the past seven years. During first grade, my elementary school offered a program to teach violin after school, and since I had a previous musical background in piano, we decided to try the violin. Through the program. I quickly learned to enjoy the instrument and even after the program finished, we continued to learn violin. Throughout the years I’ve seen myself improve year by year. This time, it was a joy seeing someone who was going down the same path. Even though it was a short time, I enjoyed watching someone who worked hard to improve week by week. I gained the perspective of a violin teacher and learned new things along the way. I also had other opportunities to teach different things through my volunteer work. I’ve taken ballet since I was 8, and starting this year, I had the opportunity to help my ballet teacher with her classes. I’ve learned how to teach a class, how to work with beginners, and how to work with different kinds of students. With this new experience with teaching, I also volunteered to teach a weekly dance class at my school. Overall, this volunteer experience was a very enlightening experience. I am very appreciative of this opportunity to receive this US President Volunteer Award.