Student volunteers to help save lives
By VALERIE SWEETEN
Paul Hoang, a Windermere Lakes resident, wanted to make a difference when doing his required 100 community service hours for his high school Christian Service Learning project.
He decided to volunteer with the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department after seeing several units respond to a call in his neighborhood.
What he didn't know is that his commitment would increase from 100-250 volunteer hours commitment. It would be closer to 250 hours.
In early 2009, he not only went in to help out around Station No. 10, located at 13110 Steeplechase, but enrolled in the cadet classes to become a certified fire fighter.
The class, called volunteer firefighter preparedness, was held at Lone Star College-CyFair.
Hoang began it in August 2009. A senior at St. Pius X High School, he had to adapt his study habits while attending classes.
Evening classes were held twice a week until 10:30 p.m. On weekends, he would spend entire Saturdays at the college.
On Dec. 5, Hoang graduated from the Lone Star College-CyFair Emergency Service Training Center and was commissioned as a firefighter.
Dennis Lee, a 17-year-veteran and fire investigator for CFVFD, was captain at the station when Hoang first came to volunteer.
Hoang is a very sharp, respectful, and anxious to learn" teen, said Lee.
He gets in there and does everything everyone else does. He's anxious to learn and doesn't shy away from anything we ask him to do. He doesn't go into an emergency situation, but he goes out to car crashes, responds on fire trucks and has some EMS training. We're glad to have him," said Lee.
Brandon Hefner, a volunteer firefighter preparedness classmate and CyFair resident, said Hoang was dedicated to performing well.
He's hardworking with a sense of humor. He definitely has a positive attitude and really likes it. He's going to do a really good job," Hefner said.
Hoang, an Arlington, Va. native, is the second of two children of mother, Thuy Dinh and father, Dat Hoang, who both operate a hair styling business near Inwood Forest.
After competing junior high at St. Jerome School, Hoang continued his education at St. Pius X High School.
As a senior, Hoang was required to do a Christian learning service project.
His parents weren't fond of his choice.
They didn't like it at first, but my Dad met Captain Lee. I was kind of nervous because I had never done anything like this before. My family knows I'm safe. I've been trained properly," Hoang said.
Hoang has managed to maintain a full course load at school, including AP Latin IV, but has little room for extracurricular activities.
It was hard to juggle with school. It was 18 weeks of classes and then meetings on Thursday nights. I didn't miss a single day or come in late. I couldn't have participated if I had a C grade in any subject," said Hoang.
Now as a basic certified firefighter, Hoang has a less stressful life.
Because of his age, his every other month station shift ends at 10 p.m. school nights and 12 a.m. weekend nights. There are still weekly meetings to attend on Thursdays.
Hoang wants to continue volunteering even after completing his project hours.
It's all been worth it. I'm ready. You get to do all of this for free, and you're helping your community. It's never enough," Hoang said.
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