Coral Gables High School senior Juan Mejia is a member of the Police Explorers and so he volunteers with the Police Athletic League and helps with community events such as beach cleanups, gift wrapping for holidays and feeding the homeless. He also has volunteered at the PAL soccer, baseball, spring break and marine camps.
As a Police Explorer, Mejia is learning how to become a police officer.
“We have meetings once a month,” he said. “It’s for kids 8-17. And sometimes, in PAL, we volunteer to help out. We organize everything.”
Although he spends half of his summers in Colombia, he does as many of the camps as he can.
“The officers come in and they teach them how to play baseball,” he said. “They play. While they are playing, we organize everything.”
Since he started volunteering at the PAL events, he says he has changed.
“When I first went there, I was shy,” he said. “Now, I’m more outgoing. I’m more of a leader and now I’m more of a hard worker.”
Mejia also earns community service hours through cooking. He is in the culinary program at Gables and through those classes he volunteers for events at the Biltmore Hotel and Doctors Hospital. At the Food and Wine Festival, the students compete with other restaurants for charity.
He worked one charity event at a Miracle Mile restaurant and one patron was so happy he donated $10,000.
“We do a lot of events and we work hard,” he said. “I love the culinary program. My teacher is amazing.”
Mejia’s goal is to become a professional chef. He is hoping to attend a culinary college such as Johnson and Wales when he finishes college.
In the meantime, Mejia has developed a special touch for desserts. He is known particularly for his creatively decorated cakes and yummy cinnamon rolls.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld