Sarah Tiggleman finds happiness in changing lives


While many people claim to be venturesome and inquisitive of trying new things, senior Sarah Tiggleman’s passion for volunteering and escaping her comfort zone found her 8,000 miles from home. On a mission trip with a group of strangers in Naro Moru, Kenya, Sarah proved to not only have an adventurous spirit but also a kind heart. 

Instead of spending her days free from school relaxing, Sarah found herself devoting a month of her summer vacation to teaching English to native Swahili speakers; funding years of future education through money donations; and providing food, clothes, and school supplies to a small town in Kenya.

Alongside building a foundation for education to grow from, Sarah also literally built a foundation for the school she was volunteering for. Replacing dirt floors with concrete ones, Sarah created a sense of stability and comfort: two crucial factors for learning. Despite this being quite grueling work, Sarah did it with a smile.

Living in America, we take it for granted, and I think just going out of our community and helping other people is really important and to give back some of the things that we have or that we don’t need.”

— Sarah Tiggleman

We got to go back [to the school] a week later and see all the kids using [the floor], and they were super happy,” Sarah said. “[It] gave us so much gratitude.”

Sarah’s mission trip didn’t stop at just volunteering for schools, though; they brought their services to a local nonprofit hospital too, providing much needed medical supplies.

Despite being preoccupied with volunteer work, Sarah still found time to immerse herself in the new culture; she went on a Safari, hiked the third highest peak in the nation: Mount Kenya, and developed friendships with the families who lived there. 

“It was really awesome to be in one place for so long because you didn’t really feel like a visitor after long,” Sarah said. “It was just such a community and everyone was so welcoming there.”

Though Sarah had fallen in love with the community and culture by the end of the trip, she described arriving in Kenya as a bit of a culture shock. 

“The community that they have is so strong and so cool to see,” Sarah said. “It [made] me realize how [materialistic we are in Forest Hills], and we’re still not happy, but they have nothing, and they’re the happiest people I know.”

Sarah’s heart beats for many more volunteer opportunities than just mission trips, though. One of the many ways Sarah gives back to the community is through her work in FHC’s greenhouse, cultivating a garden of fresh vegetables for those who want them.

With the mission trip, greenhouse, and other activities, Sarah’s schedule is packed with service work, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Helping out any way I can is important to me,” Sarah said. “I love making people happy and seeing the reactions on people’s faces.”

One of the ways Sarah makes people smile is through her participation in the fine arts. She’s been a dancer since she was three-years-old, is a member of The Central Singers, and is a talented actress in musical theatre. Sarah’s passion for the arts allows her to fill her passion for volunteering without always having to get her hands dirty.

Both on stage and in a third world country, Sarah Tiggleman can be found devoting her time to volunteer work just to brighten someone’s day.

Sarah feels that her volunteer work has not only impacted the world but impacted her as a person.

“I definitely feel like I’ve changed [as a person] because I’m just so grateful for all that I have in life,” Sarah said. “[My trip to Kenya] showed me that, no matter what you have, it’s just important to be happy and to be loving.”