With only a month and a half left of walking through the LFHS halls, the feeling of school fleeing away from us is without a doubt hitting the student body. Everything is approaching quickly: Prom, Senior Ditch Day, playoffs for sports, and many other last hurrahs for seniors. Then comes summer, the time we have been counting down to to relieve us of the responsibility and stresses of school.
Summer boasts free time to do whatever we want–hang out at the beach, make some money, or explore a new country or state on vacation. Free time seems golden in the heat of a hectic week replete with late night practices, AP tests, and maybe even exhausting, petty drama. When that first week of June hits us, we anticipate immediate adventure, laughs, and nonstop fun; however, we don’t anticipate the extreme boredom that comes at times. Admit it, you’ve even wished you were back at school at times. The grass really is greener on the LFHS front lawn, am I wrong? We all like to be in a routine rhythm, but we don’t enjoy the stress that can come with the schedule of school. So who says you can’t remove stress by being in a routine? Make these volunteer opportunities a part of your summer itinerary and you’ll be sure to not wish you were back in school this summer while also being a productive member of the community.
Beacon Place is a community center for families in need in North Chicago. Every summer, the volunteers there help provide lunch and activities such as board games, reading, arts and crafts, and sports for kids. Tutoring programs throughout the school year as well as throughout the summer are available to the kids, and the summer lunch program meets twice a week. LFHS alumnus and current freshman at Indiana University, Matt Begley, spoke out about his Beacon Place experience. “Volunteering at Beacon Place showed me that having a great time and making a positive impact on the community can go hand in hand. Getting to know the children that attend the program is also a great part of the experience. I looked forward to catching up with them every week and it was incredibly rewarding to see them so excited to be back at Beacon every Monday and Thursday. For me, the collaborative atmosphere of Beacon Place led to the discovery of a passion for social impact that I have had ever since. The ability to make a difference and have an absolute blast doing it makes Beacon Place a phenomenal place to spend part of your summer.” Begley now plans on working there this summer, helping out in both the summer camp as well as the science education program they are running this year.
House of Peace
The House of Peace is a domestic violence shelter for the Latina community of the North Shore. Every Tuesday night, House of Peace needs volunteers to play with the kids while their mothers attend a therapy activity. Frequent House of Peace volunteer and LFHS senior, Adele O’Neill, spoke about her experience at House of Peace. “Through CROYA I have had the opportunity to get to know many of the people at House of Peace. The kids never fail to make me smile and their gratitude makes the service so worth it.” Some of the ways to volunteer are event planning for upcoming fundraisers, being a jewelry salesperson for the Esperanza Project (selling jewelry and art crafted by the children and their mothers), and moving furniture to a family’s permanent residence. The House of Peace truly is a safe haven and a transformative environment for the women and children there, who are on their way to healing and independence.
GLASA, Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, holds its motto of “Let No One Sit on the Sidelines” to be absolutely true. The program strives to support the wellbeing of physically or visually disabled youth and adults through competitive sports, education, leadership, and collaboration. Senior Alex Brown shared her experience at a GLASA track meet in the summer of 2015, “What I got out of this experience was an immense admiration for the hard work and dedication of all the athletes to achieve a dream of theirs that might seem unattainable to some. The GLASA community is unlike any other, the pride and spirit that every volunteer and athlete has is inspiring. I felt as if my volunteering was valued no matter how little the job might have seemed to me. This program shows that no matter what, nothing can hold you back from achieving a dream or reaching new heights.” Brown still keeps in touch with a dear friend and athlete she met at GLASA, Sam Grewe, who won a silver medal in men’s high jump at the Paralympics in Rio 2016.
Even if you are a senior and have no volunteer requirements left to fill for NHS or other community service programs, these places are simply a fantastic and fun way to spend your time. Better yet, they are a unique way to give back to a community that has done so much for all of us. Each of these organizations are impactful in their own way and making them part of your everyday schedule this summer will make the summer of 2017 one to remember.