It started as an idea.
An idea to help others going through the same rough time as her.
A way to make others welcome, when they felt the most alone.
Within the past month, junior Michelle Nguyen faced tough family issues, which inspired her to create a system where she writes handwritten letters to people in need of someone to talk to. On Sept. 17, Nguyen created a Google form for people to reach out to her for support. Nguyen based her idea on a girl she saw on Instagram, who took part in a pen pals program where two people write back and forth to each other frequently.
“I started the form because at that time I was going through some things in my life that [were] really personal that I would not talk to anyone about [including] some pretty close friends who I tell everything to,” Michelle said. “It had me thinking how everyone goes through some things and not everyone is fortunate enough to have parents, siblings or friends to talk to.”
In the Google form, Michelle asks people to state their name if they feel comfortable enough, their address and what they need help with. She then creates a handwritten letter because she said it is more personal than sending a text message or an email. Michelle also writes her number in the letter just in case the recipient needs anything in the future.
“They write what they need help with and I write them back about how I feel and I give them advice,” Michelle said. “It’s just me talking to them as a friend because not everyone has friends to talk to.”
Less than a month after posting her tweet about the letters, Michelle been able to help ten people so far with serious issues.
“Sometimes people [end] their lives because they have this burden on [themselves], where they just can’t talk to anyone,” Michelle said. “I want to be a friend to everyone and I want to be there for everyone. A lot of people see me as this happy person all the time who has everything going for them but I’ve dealt with a lot of bad things in my life.”
Michelle’s sister, sophomore Stacy Nguyen and friend junior Haley Stockton praise Michelle for how beneficial her letters can be.
“I thought that it was a great idea and really showed who Michelle is as a person,” Stockton said. “I know how kind and caring she is, considering she has been one of the greatest friends I’ve ever had. Everyone deserves to have a best friend like Michelle. When she told me, I fully supported her and praised her for wanting to help others. I believe that this could potentially help people rise above their struggles and give them the motivation they need to improve their lives and be happier.”
Stacy said she could use a system like this since she has gone through a lot of trouble in her life.
“I could see myself benefiting from this,” Stacy said. “It would be nice to rant about it with someone. I would feel a lot more comfortable with doing it through letters because I personally don’t like being vulnerable to someone face to face.”
After creating this service, Michelle has found herself getting closer to God. Through her relationship with God, she has said she has found her purpose of helping people, which has led her to joining Circle of Friends.
“I have a passion to help other people and kids with special needs,” Michelle said. “When I was younger, I use to want to be a therapist or I wanted to go around the world just helping people. I don’t know where life is gonna take me.”
Michelle does not see her service ending anytime soon. She plans to carry on until she graduates from college. Michelle said that getting to help people through her service has created an opportunity for her to make sure people got the help she never received.
“It feels amazing. It makes me so happy that I can help people. I just feel so complete knowing that I’m there for anyone who needs me.”