By Mamta Lulla

Lazy, entitled and glued to their phones – that’s how we often picture millennials. But maybe this generation is just misunderstood.
Take, Stony Plain’s Melanie Elhafid, for example. At only 19, she has made giving a big part of her life. She is a student, a worker and a volunteer for several Tri-Region organizations and programs and is often asked ‘how do you do it all’?
She is a prime example to defy clichés like the younger generation is selfish because she has successfully grasped the concept of giving and helping others. She is familiar with the butterflies we feel in our stomachs when we share something with someone in need.
She learned to help others at a very young age and continues to do so today by volunteering for programs, at events, and numerous organizations.
“I am a firm believer that the best way to make great memories and lasting friendships is through immersing myself in my community,” she said.
We think millennials don’t care about the community but this millennial has run food bank drives, asked for sponsorships, fundraised, sat on student unions, tutored and mentored because she cares immensely.
Recently she coordinated, planned, budgeted and got sponsorships for kids’ activities at Festival of Trees. She has been a volunteer with the annual event for the last five years, proving to everyone millennials are equally devoted.
At the University of Alberta, where she’s a full-time student, she has joined clubs helping first-year students integrate into post-secondary. She is also part of Rotaract – Rotary Club for Universities — where she’s helping fundraise for meals for seniors in Ecuador.
During her school years, she has been part of student unions and tutored students of all ages. We think millennials don’t work hard enough but her hours and hours of tutoring and coaching in the past now helps her make money part-time. Another one of her part-time jobs includes Special Olympics swim coach.
What drives this millennial is the inspiration she receives from other volunteers. Her favourite parts of volunteering are meeting and sharing memories with people which won’t be possible otherwise. Her supportive and loving family also keeps her going.
“My family shows me daily what hard work, respect, and humility looks like,” she said.
Her volunteer journey started when she was in Grade 3 and continues till date.
“I know it sounds cheesy but I love reaching out and helping others,” she said.
Her early memories of giving back go back to Ecuador – where her family is from. Her family has a Christmas tradition of making ‘goodie bags’ for adults and children and donating them to those who need it and remembers handing out goodie bags from a young age.
“I donated old toys and it’s a small act of kindness in the grand scheme of things but that stuck with me because of how I felt doing it,” she said, remembering how it all started.
Her giving and helping nature is steering her career as well as she hopes to become a doctor someday. She is a third year bilingual Bachelor of Science student at the French faculty at the University of Alberta currently.
Fluent in English, French and Spanish, this millennial will also impress you with her language skills.
Apart from helping others, she enjoys teaching others as well – sharing her knowledge is a big part of her life.
“I find teaching rewarding especially when students make a breakthrough when understanding concepts,” she said.

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