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Barb’s Story

Barb attended HOBY's Volunteer Training Institute in Houston, Texas.

Barb attended HOBY’s Volunteer Training Institute in Houston, Texas.

“My cup runneth over”.

This is something I actually sing to myself as I leave HOBY each and every year; I come as I am each year to HOBY, worn down and unsure of what’s next for me, and leave with my cup full of hope, rejuvenation and, an overwhelming sense of good in our world. HOBY allows students and volunteers to come just as they are and sends them off as a community, and knowing they found their “people.”

I was invited to the HOBY New York West my sophomore year in high school and was utterly perplexed at the concept of what HOBY was, and thought to myself: Who needs a leadership seminar? I’m busy enough with everything I do at school… I will take those words back for the rest of my life.

The empowerment of self and others that students and volunteers gain through HOBY is, well, let’s say it: OUTSTANDING. The program and curriculum are developed in a way that allows students to blossom their thoughts into amazing discussions with other students just like them from all over Western New York and interact with volunteers and speakers who come back year after year just to share in this experience with students.

Volunteering with HOBY has shared with me the opportunity to find “my people,” people who will remain undoubtedly in my life for years to come. It’s not so much what I’ve learned as a volunteer or what our students learn through the program it’s the individuals you meet along the way and the opportunity we are all given to create an amazing community together.

HOBY gave me the chance to take a chance on myself and feel the amazing sense of encouragement from other volunteers and students and I love leaving each year with a fresh cup of HOBY to take with me when I need it most.

-Barbara Bianchi, ‘08
Irondequoit High School

Christian’s Story

Who doesn't love HOBY selfies?

Who doesn’t love HOBY selfies?

HOBY: one of the most intellectually stimulating experiences you can have in your life. The friends you make forever, the ambassadors who always inspire you, and a chance for growth and reflection in your own life. Volunteering now for my fifth year with HOBY, it was yet again an overwhelming success. New York West has put on a conference that is one to be nothing but proud of. This year I took on the role of a facilitator for a group of students from all over Western New York. From this lens I was able to lead my students in life changing discussion, as well as demonstrate to them HOBY is a family that will always be here for you! Every single one of my ambassadors loved the conference and have demonstrated interest in returning to volunteer next year. They loved every part from creating a SMART goal to better their own communities to a career dinner that inspired many to pursue a certain profession. Each individual brought their own talents to create a group that I will never forget! One of the last things I told my ambassadors was HOBY is never over. I hope just like myself, my wonderful group knows where they will be next year during HOBY!

-Christian Bryant, ’12
Perry Jr./Sr. High School

For HOBY Ambassadors, It’s All About Learning to Lead

By Anna Kane, 2014 Alumna & Volunteer

Published in The Buffalo News, June 18, 2015

HOBY, or Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, is, on the surface, a three-day leadership seminar for high school sophomores. But to its ambassadors, HOBY is a place full of “smart, intuitive people who like to have fun and come together to enhance their leadership skills and learn,” said Bronwen Pelish, 16, a sophomore at Penfield High School, near Rochester.

Founded in 1958 by the actor who portrayed Wyatt Earp in a 1950s television Western, HOBY is dedicated to helping ambassadors reach their full potential through speakers and service projects that teach personal, group and societal leadership.

HOBY New York West has been held at the University of Rochester for the past several years, boasting a program that has featured a presentation from a Sudanese Lost Boy and cleanup of Mount Hope Cemetery.

Typically, prospective ambassadors are asked to write an essay about leadership by their high school counselor in order to attend HOBY.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into … it was just a nondescript youth conference I heard about,” said Josh Larmon, 15, a sophomore at Oakfield-Alabama High School.

Katie Johnston, 16, a sophomore at Wilson High School, said she wasn’t expecting to make such good friends in such a short amount of time.

“You’re in a room full of complete strangers and it’s not weird … I learned so much about how to be a better person, not only from the presentations but my peers,” she said.

A favorite presentation among ambassadors was “Challenge Us: Leading for a Stronger Group,” presented by Shannon Dobrovolny of Cazenovia College. An interactive lesson, it focused on the negative impact certain words can have on people, and opened up ambassadors’ eyes to how they act and speak on a daily basis.

While at New York West, ambassadors have the opportunity to meet with other students and create a service project to combat issues facing their communities.

Ambassadors from Niagara County have created a plan titled “New Niagara” that will focus on running recycling and bottle return programs and meet monthly to clean up Niagara Falls.

After attending local seminars, ambassadors have the opportunity to go to the World Leadership Congress in Chicago or Advanced Leadership Academy at George Mason University in Virginia in an effort to continue their HOBY experience.

Ambassadors also have the opportunity to come back to their local seminar as a junior staff member. The junior staff tends to be more behind the scenes and helps to lead cheers, run errands for programmers, and serve as a go-between for senior staff and ambassadors.

With a mission to “inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation,” HOBY works to motivate and empower ambassadors to make a difference by having integrity, volunteering, striving for excellence, celebrating diversity and partnering with communities – both local and worldwide.

“HOBY teaches you to lead yourself and to be confident so that you can lead others,” said Trey Rees, 16, a sophomore at Wilson High School.

Anna Kane is a junior at Wilson High School.

To view the full story on The Buffalo News’ website, please click here.