Hey, kids – get off your rears and volunteer! | TheUnion.com

Hey, kids – get off your rears and volunteer!

The first day of school is here, and it’s inevitable that at least one of your teachers will pop the question: “Tommy, what did you do this summer?” And it’s inevitable that the teacher will get the exact same response from the majority of her students: “Well, Miss Jackson, I slept until noon every day, watched ‘Days of Our Lives’ religiously and ate pizza four times a day.”

But, for every 30 or so slackers, the teachers come across a special student. The one who didn’t sleep much, barely had a chance to turn on the television, and found time to sit down and eat – a rarity. These are the kids who got off their lazy bums and did something constructive. These are the kids who volunteer.

Meet Brenda Ferris. Brenda is a 16-year-old junior at Nevada Union who volunteers with Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital as a candy striper. Each month, clad in a pink pin-striped pinafore, Brenda spends eight hours at the hospital. While there, her duties include visiting with the patients, general house cleaning and ensuring the comfort of patients. So why does she spend so much time in an environment most teens rumple their noses at? According to her, the chance to explore the medical field and help others at the same time is worth the funky hospital smell.

Camy Worden, a junior at Bear River High School, volunteers with Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue. Currently, she is one of only two teen girls active with the group. Camy, along with the rest of her team, spends countless hours training in areas such as map and compass, man tracking, first aid and more. It’s not uncommon to find her hiking along rugged trails at 2 a.m. alongside her teammates in an attempt to find a lost individual. How cool is that?

It’s super cool, as are each of the volunteer groups in the county.

Organizations from Rotary to Red Cross to Lions are available to people of all ages. All offer a unique experience and give something invaluable to the community in their own special way. Volunteer groups are a great way not only to give something back, but to meet new people, learn new skills and have a whole ton of fun.

What’s that you say? You don’t have time to volunteer? Well, you can always support the people who do by attending fund-raisers held by nonprofit organizations. On Sept. 21, Search and Rescue will be hosting its annual luau-style Pig Roast at the Nevada County Sportsmen’s Club. The event features not only wonderful food and fun people, but also showcases entertainment for adults and kids alike. For only 10 dollars (heck, you could pull that out of your couch cushions), you can enjoy search dog demonstrations, helicopter displays, and did I mention how good the food is? If you’re interested in attending or want to find out more about the food, drop me an e-mail and I’ll hook you up with some information.

The moral of this story is that you need to support our local nonprofit organizations, or one day it’s going to come around and bite you. No matter who you are or what you do, it is guaranteed that you have been touched by a local volunteer group somehow. Sometime in your life you have been helped by a group of dedicated people who were passionate about a cause. Whether you’re a skater with baggy pants who got a skatepark because people in town came together to raise money, or a football player who has a nifty jersey because local businesses sponsored you to pump some iron, you have been helped by the people around you. Now, don’t you think it’s only right that you give something back?

And don’t try to convince me that you can’t find an organization to suit your interests. Do you enjoy swimming? Volunteer your time as an instructor or lifeguard. Like to help others? Become a volunteer firefighter. Adore children? Volunteer as a baby sitter where child care is needed. Love stories? Visit with the elderly at a local nursing facility. Is reading your thing? Become a tutor at the library. I guarantee there is an organization to fit the interests of everyone.

I encourage you to find your glass slipper of an organization now, because we all have to realize that sooner or later we all need a little help, whether we care to admit it or not. And if we don’t put in our time now, it’s possible that the help we need won’t be there when we need it most.

Natalie Russell, a 16-year-old Grass Valley resident, is a junior at Nevada Union High School. She writes a monthly column. E-mail her at Firechick20@webtv.net, or write her in care of Youth Page, The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.

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