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Students say volunteer work is “life-changing”
They have found purpose and passion in their own lives and made a positive difference in the lives of others. Some work with young patients at Children’s Hospital or young people living in difficult circumstances. Others support special needs students through animal therapy or Special Olympics. Many help raise awareness of important issues or money for worthwhile causes.

Ten high school students from across the Cherry Creek School District shared their personal stories of volunteerism with parents and community members at the Jan. 7 Parent Information Network (PIN) meeting.

“There’s not a better feeling in the world,” said Isabella Decocco, a senior at Grandview High School, who volunteers once a week with a horse therapy organization. “You learn so much about yourself and about humanity.”

“Walking out of Children’s Hospital after an eight-hour shift, I’m on the top of the world,” said Walker Crowley, a junior at Cherry Creek High School who has volunteered at Children’s since he was 13 years old.

Crowley, Decocco and several of the other students come from families who do a lot of volunteer work, but others, like Rebecca Alfaro, got involved through school, specifically the International Baccalaureate program, which requires students to volunteer a minimum of 150 hours. Alfaro, a senior at Smoky Hill High School, spends a lot of time tutoring other students, and also formed a club, called “Girl Up,” based on a program sponsored by the United Nations.

“We focus on empowering girls in third world countries who want to get an education,” said Alfaro.

Alex Vidmar, a senior at Overland High School, said he started volunteering “by accident” after a teacher asked him to help with a softball program for inner city students.

“A lot of the fun is getting to know the girls, helping them learn the basics, watching them develop a love for the sport,” said Vidmar, who added that the experience has helped him develop “genuine empathy” for others.

All of the students agree that they’ve gained far more than they’ve given through their volunteer work, and they encourage others – students and adults alike – to get involved.

“Everyone has the power to make someone’s life better,” said Emily Heneman, a junior at Eaglecrest High School.

“Volunteering reminds me that there is so much good in the world,” said Grandview High School senior Shelby Hackney.

Smoky Hill High School senior Kristen Tucker says the impact on both the volunteer and those they help is tremendous. “It’s life-changing,” she said.

Posted January 8, 2014.
Posted 1/8/2014 9:55 AM
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