Photo of Ariel Tu and her quote, “I decided to get involved with Advancing Justice-LA to familiarize myself with the ways and which nonprofit organizations operate, at the same time giving back to the community I hold so dear to my heart.”

In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Week, we would like to spotlight Ariel Tu. Ariel interned with Advancing Justice-LA last summer under our Development and Communications unit. During her internship which was entirely remote, she helped with numerous projects. Some of the projects she assisted with were preparation for our first ever virtual gala and hosting a remote event with her fellow interns to discuss the importance of the Census and voting.

How did you learn about Advancing Justice-LA?

I learned about Advancing Justice-LA through my mom’s friend in her Rotary Club in Taiwan. It is surprising how the organization’s name was spread internationally across the Pacific Ocean. Advancing Justice-LA is actually one of the first organizations, I came across that was dedicated to providing services for the AAPI communities. Thank you Stewart Kwoh, Frank Lin, and Michi Lew for connecting me with the organization!

What prompted you to get involved?

I applied to be a volunteer around April 2020, which was when COVID-19 started to hit the country. Many anti-AAPI incidents reported across the country made me realize how important it is to protect ourselves from injustice and hatred. I decided to get involved with the organization to get myself familiar with the ways and which nonprofit organizations operate, at the same time giving back to the community I hold so dear to my heart.

What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience as an Advancing Justice-LA volunteer?

During my time volunteering at Advancing Justice-LA, I was working under the development and communication department. Under the communication department I participated in the research about anti-AAPI sentiments during the COVID-19 pandemic, drafted some blog posts featuring current events. Under the development department, I was able to participate in the project where I reached out to individual and corporate donors for sponsorships. Furthermore, another interesting project I did was to plan out the thank you gifts for the donors within a limited amount of budget.

Do you have an inspirational story you can briefly tell about your experience volunteering?

Since I was working alongside the Communications and Development units the most, I didn’t get a chance to interact with the people this organization serves. However, I found this organization inspirational and influential because even after I left the organization, I still heard about the work they do everywhere. I was very surprised to see on my instagram story that one of the clubs I was previously involved in at my school actually held a fundraiser to help fight against AAPI hate, and donated all the proceeds to Advancing Justice-LA. It is the work that this organization does that really inspires people to get involved.

What advice would you give other individuals who want to participate in volunteer or pro bono work?

To keep an open mind! There are so many ways to get involved in pro bono work, it does not only include advocacy but so much more. You don’t have to be a lawyer to be able to protect the underrepresented community from injustice. Donation, event planning, marketing through social media are all very crucial parts for organizations like Asian American Advancing Justice-Los Angeles.

Advancing Justice-LA is the nation's largest legal aid and civil rights organization serving the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community