Giving Back: students share how they get involved in the community

Isha Patel, Staff Writer

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Walking through the dog park, taking in the fresh air and stopping to play catch with the dogs are only some of the things senior Abby Fanous does every weekend as a part of her volunteering job at Wayside Waifs.

“They are a no kill shelter, so they take dogs from off the streets or dogs from kills shelters who would originally be killing dogs,” Fanous said. “They save them and give them all of their shots and everything so they can be adopted and find their forever homes.”

There, Fanous said she has the job of being a dog walker, in which she keeps the dogs company by taking them out to the dog park and playing with them, instead of having the dogs stay in their kennels all day.

“I feel as if [volunteering is] a way to give back to my community because I have been so fortunate in my life with where I live,” Fanous said. “I feel like it makes [someone] more humble and feel fortunate for what they have. Especially here in [Johnson County], it’s easy to get stuck in that bubble and never go outside and see what the world is really like. Volunteering helps you branch out to see what [there] is.”

Additionally, she said she enjoys volunteering because she knows others are appreciative of her help.

“Every time I go and volunteer, I am always thanked by someone and I feel so welcomed by the people I am working with; [they] are always so kind,” Fanous said.

She said she makes time to volunteer every Saturday for at least two hours a week. Furthermore, she said she describes volunteering as something everyone should experience.

“I feel like you’re missing out on a whole different experience because it gives you a different outlook on the world,” Fanous said. “Instead of previewing everything out of the perspective of money, it’s out of the perspective of doing good or making people feel better.”

She said people should be volunteering out of the good of their heart, not to just receive a prize or an outcome they wanted, as that defeats the purpose of the community service.

Junior Saha Ahmadian said she has chosen to dedicate her volunteering at a the Healthcare Resort of Olathe, a nursing home for senior citizens.

“I just always thought [volunteering] would be a fun way to help out with the community, and [a chance to] go out there, talk to residents and hear their stories,” Ahmadian said. “I always found an interest in this kind of stuff.”

She said she has been volunteering for the past two years at various places, including Ronald McDonald Houses and the Harvesters Organization. She said part of her job is to

interact with the residents, putting on movies for them, calling out bingo and having a conversation, along with being a receptionist on some days.

“I feel that volunteering is a good way for kids to give back to their community, it’s a fun way to kill time and you know that you’re helping,” Ahmadian said. “When you go in there I can tell you … brighten up these elderly people’s day, because they are there every day and when someone like you comes in and you listen, talk [and] make conversation—that just makes me feel good. I made them happy and changed up their regular routine.”

Ahmadian said she tries to go in and volunteer every Saturday and Sunday based upon her schedule each week. Normally, she said she spends between four to five hours each day at the nursing homes.

“There is no negative aspect if [someone doesn’t] want to volunteer, [if] they are missing out then they won’t have the opportunity to give back,” Ahmadian said. “But if you [choose to] volunteer you want it do it with a good mindset and you want to do it through the good of knowing that there’s a good outcome that your feeling.”

In addition to the experience of volunteering, Senior Emma Green said she has volunteered at Wayside Waifs and occasional hospitals and nursing homes. However, her main way of giving back to the community is through the school’s KAY club.

KAY stands for The Kansas Association for Youth, and is an organization directed through the Kansas High School Activities Association that provides students the opportunity to learn leadership skills along with finding multiple ways to give back to the community. Green said she likes to incorporate the things she is passionate for into ways that she can help the community, or give back.

“I think volunteering is more enjoyable if you do what you love, and use your talents and abilities that you have,” Green said.  “I’ve always loved doing community service. I think it’s important as members of the community that we give back to it. So, freshman year, I was like ‘oh yeah, I’m going to join KAY club’ because one of their values is community service so I got plugged in there and kind of stuck [with it].”

Currently, Green is the president of the school’s KAY club in which she overlooks the entire club and organizes ways for members to earn community service hours during the weekend, along with planning team building activities to learn and incorporate the skills into the meetings. Moreover, she said she earned the title of Area 1 President for KAY.

“In the state of Kansas the club is divided into six geographical areas and each area president is elected,” Green said. “Our area, Johnson County is in Area 1 and I am the Area 1 President, and I preside over thirty-eight middle and high school KAY clubs.”

Greens said it is her job to be the represented speaker of the district, talk at conferences and produce a daily newsletter to be sent out to all clubs included in Area 1.

“[KAY] is a great way to get community service hours with your friends,” Green said. “We volunteer but we also learn a lot of leadership skills too and I think that is important for high schools, to have a foundational set of leadership skills. We get to know people and [other] volunteers [while] serving others and I think that is a really important thing, it’s a really humbling experience, so get out of your comfort zone and go for it.”

Green said she agreed that those who chose to not volunteer are missing out on a great experience. She said she gets a feeling of happiness every time she serves others and not just herself.

“I think it an important thing as humans [that] we need to be selfless, not selfish,” Green said.

| ishapatel

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