Club manager, trainer lives out his passion for volunteering
Ahn, who worked as a health trainer for seven years, has an exceptional talent for leading the right people to the right places at the right time.
For this reason, all the children with hearing disabilities residing in Eunpyeong District, northern Seoul, received hearing aids.
“He brings the most appropriate person whenever we need help,” said Kim Eun-jeong, who heads the Association of the Deaf in Eunpyeong District. “He’s a great person, and what he does is exquisite.”
Ahn has helped the association since 2009. He and his co-trainers ran a pop-up tea store to raise donations, which were later used to buy hearing aids for three deaf children.
“A hearing aid costs about 3 million won [$2,500] to 5 million won,” Ahn said. “I was touched when I saw the children crying after they received the hearing aids. I couldn’t make it a one-time event; with just a few million won, you can educate a child for several years.”
Twenty-two children with hearing difficulties in Eunpyeong District have since received hearing aids. But Ahn didn’t provide all of them. Rather, he rallied assistance from the clients he met as a trainer.
“Most of them happily agreed to help out,” he said. “And now, some of them even visit the Association of the Deaf to volunteer on their own.”
Ahn first became interested in helping others when he was young. At the time, he lived with his grandmother, who had difficulty walking following a car accident. He first experienced the joy that comes from paying it forward in the 10th grade, when he returned a lost wallet containing 4 million won to its owner.
“The owner of the wallet came to my school to thank me,” he recalled, “and I received an award in front of thousands of students at my school. After that, I realized that helping someone else could be personally rewarding.”
After entering university, Ahn volunteered in community centers and day care centers to lead physical education classes. He also felt the need to gain experience in social welfare and earned an online bachelor’s degree in social welfare studies.
He continued to volunteer even when he served in the military in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Ahn established relationships with rehabilitation centers for the disabled near the military base and ran volunteer programs in which new recruits helped out by cleaning and doing laundry.
“The newcomers who were too healthy to evade military conscription stopped complaining after joining the volunteer program,” he said. “It’s fulfilling to see how the idea of helping others can spread.”
Ahn added that his next focus will be on seniors and the elderly who live alone.
BY LEE JI-YOUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]