No downside to volunteering
TED WEBSTER and DYLAN JOHNSON
are National Honor Society students at Lancaster School.
(Enterprise photo by Anna Jauhola)
By Anna Jauhola
For some, volunteering comes naturally and others find it brings them out of their shell. For five National Honor Society members at Kittson Central and Lancaster schools, it’s a mix.
Senior Morgan Bergeron and Juniors Morgan Muir and Avery Wiese are Kittson Central students who all feel they were always more shy growing up. Their years volunteering have helped them grow into more confident and outgoing people.
“I think it has helped me get a better understanding of people,” Bergeron said. “I used to be a lot more shy when I was younger, so volunteering helped me get out of my shell and talk to people.”
Muir and Wiese agreed. They said getting to know their community has helped them not only grow their confidence but also their communication, identifying people’s needs and knowing how to help them.
“Volunteering helps you not take help for granted because when you’re helping others, you get a feel for what it’s like when others help you. It helps you appreciate it more,” Wiese said.
All three of these students grew up helping their families with volunteer activities. Muir helped his grandpa, John Muir, set up flags in Greenwood Cemetery, where he learned they are important to everyone, not just veterans. He also ran the clock at the Hallock Ice Arena and helped in the penalty box. Bergeron helped her oldest sister with class fundraisers and both sisters with babysitting. Wiese enjoyed the volunteering opportunities presented through 4-H at a young age.
Not only have many adults become their mentors and role models through the activities they do, but volunteering has become second-nature. Bergeron organized Candy Cane Compliments at school this year as a fundraiser for Holiday Helpers. She said it was fun to collect the notes students and staff wanted attached to candy canes and delivered to others around the school at Christmastime.
Wiese and Muir really enjoyed decorating and dressing up for the Trunk or Treat event held on Hallock’s main street at Halloween.
“Being with everyone, it was super laid back and fun to see the whole community come together for that,” Wiese said.
“I think on Grandparents’ Day when we serve food to everybody, it’s kind of cool to see everybody together,” Muir said.
Bergeron will attend UND in the fall and will be a part of the National Honor Society there as well. She’s excited to participate in any volunteer events she can to connect with new people and make new friends. Muir and Wiese have a year left yet, but know they will volunteer wherever they are able. Muir hopes to ge involved and mentor in youth sports programs. Wiese hopes to find something that will help him orient himself with the community he joins.
“Volunteering can instill a sense of pride in you. I’d say it’s worth it,” Wiese said.
“Yeah, it puts you in a better mood and others in a better mood,” Muir agreed.
In the Lancaster community, Seniors Ted Webster and Dylan Johnson have known volunteering their whole lives. While Webster grew up in Michigan and participated in Boy Scouts before moving to Lancaster, he said his experience with the FCCLA program and NHS has molded his drive to volunteer.
“This being a small community, volunteering has always been a big thing here. It’s just how it is. You don’t think about it, you just volunteer,” Webster said.
Johnson said she got her start through FCCLA as well starting in seventh grade, helping with Halloween parties and also through church and youth groups.
Both students said they particularly enjoyed raking leaves and cleaning yards in the fall, and roadside cleanup in the spring. Both activities involve kids from the whole school, exposing them to the benefits of volunteering. Webster said he really likes seeing the impact they have when they help clean up at the senior housing in Lancaster.
“They really appreciate it,” he said.
Once they joined NHS, they both found great satisfaction in mentoring seventh and eighth graders. Webster said they are paired with two or three students and help them set up good habits for high school like keeping their lockers clean, keeping a detailed agenda and neat binders. Johnson said helping the younger students gives them a chance to bond and be good role models.
“We also do Friends Friday every month and that’s where you go in with younger students and get to interact and do fun things,” Johnson said.
To many people, oftentimes volunteering can feel like a chore.
Not to these students.
“It makes the community a better place,” Webster said. “When you volunteer, it makes things better for everyone. There’s not a downside to it. Even if you lose a little bit of free time, it’s worth it.”
Webster plans to attend South Dakota State University next year and is excited to find ways to volunteer and get to know the community. Johnson is heading to Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa. She’s hoping volunteer activities help her find opportunities to meet people and integrate into the community as well.
All five students say the benefits of volunteering definitely outweigh any negatives, and it’s easy to start. If you don’t know where you can volunteer, just talk to people. Find out needs within the community, visit a senior center or assisted living facility, and invite a friend to accompany you.
“I’d just say service is a good part of life that you’ve got to learn and know how to do,” Johnson added. “It’s just always better to help someone out when you can.”