The Young Philanthropist: Rowell Cruz

Plant a person where there is opportunity to do good, and that person will grow. That’s Rowell Cruz’s story.

At 29, he’s a programmer in a travel agency and has been at it for seven years. With the usual 9-hour workday plus the overtime hours, you’d think he was just your average Joe. On weekends, sometimes he works. Sometimes, he watches movies or goes out with friends. But sometimes too, he attends The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®’s monthly Caring Cup events.

And that’s what places Rowell ahead of life’s learning curve.

A Different Mode of Thinking

Rowell hadn’t always been a volunteer. He didn’t suddenly wake up one Saturday morning and decided he wanted to give away his time to bring joy and hope to others. It wasn’t such a spur-of-the-moment adventure to him as it was the gentle nudge of something bigger out there, something important. And it all started with the 2014 Giving Journal.

Rowell was inspired by the quotes inside the journal and its whole Brew Your Best Year campaign. After all, the idea of living a life that overflows was wonderfully appealing. Because he was inspired, he started to contribute to the project. When they announced their first event of the year, he submitted an entry so that he could get an exclusive invite to the event. His piece was chosen.


Inspired after the event, he joined the next one.  This time, it was for a storytelling activity held in a hospital done in partnership with Kythe, an organization that caters to pediatric patients who are fighting cancer. That’s when he grasped what “Brew Your Best Year” was really all about. It was never just for “you.” It was all about living a life brimming with good things and opportunities, that out of the fullness of your life, you are able to be a blessing to others. From that time on, Rowell has been an active volunteer for Caring Cup events.

Of course, Rowell also likes volunteering because it gives him a chance to overcome his shyness. He tells us that, because he is a naturally shy person, conversing and engaging with other people does not come naturally to him. But volunteering has changed all of that, and volunteering has showed him the power of making a difference in others’ lives.

During our interview with him, he shared with us one of his most memorable moments in volunteering. It was at a Caring Cup event, in partnership with the Make A Wish Foundation. “It’s a different feeling granting someone else’s wish,” he tells us. “When I gave the child what he wanted as a wish and when the child was saying goodbye at the end of it all, I felt so fulfilled. It was the kind of fulfillment that can’t be trumped by any other.”




An Overflow of Growth

For Rowell, giving is so much more than just, well, giving. It’s also about growth. This growth- this inner development and maturity- is the fruit of all the time, talent, and resources shared for the benefit of someone else.

He tells us that, if there’s any takeaway he has had as a volunteer, it’s becoming aware of the organizations that exist and their missions, aware of the different kinds of people and personalities that exist in the world, aware of the realities and the needs of others. It’s this awareness that helps us remove our focus from ourselves and shift it towards others, and this awareness that has helped him become a person for others, too.

When asked about what value he sees in giving back, he says: “[When you give back,] you become more responsible for your decisions and  actions, and everything you do is about something else bigger. Now, what you do impacts other people in the community.”” There’s a certain sense of ownership that arises that causes him to care for the world around him.

He tells us that his primary source of inspiration is his family; by caring for others, he also makes his family proud, and this encourages him to strive more, to give more.

But the unparalleled feelings of fulfillment help, too. “I’m always inspired after every event. That’s one of the reasons why I continue to give back. That, as well as the ability to touch the lives of others. Plus, I also enjoy the activities,” Rowell shares. Of course, the Caring Cup events wouldn’t be what they are without a little fun.

“I am really not a ‘people person’ but joining the various Caring Cup events opened my mind and heart to something wonderful,” he adds.

A Priceless Experience 


Giving your energy away and investing it in another person’s happiness gives a kind of satisfaction that no amount of savings can buy.  Perhaps this can only be discovered by actually getting out there and immersing one’s self in experiences that serve others.

At the end of our interview, we asked Rowell what he’d like to tell someone who wants to volunteer:

“Trust me, you’ll never regret the experience. Sharing is priceless.”

About the Contributor

Visit Rowell Cruz’s Instagram to get a glimpse of his life, random musings about the weekly Brew Your Best Year themes, and moments captured from his participation in the various Caring Cup events.

See all of Rowell Cruz's posts →

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