Last year, Daviess County High School seniors partnered with Volunteer Owensboro for several service projects in the community. Over 320 students were placed in 24 nonprofits for a two-hour period. The students and staff enjoyed it so much the staff wanted to continue the project as part of the senior week activities.
DCHS Family Resource Youth Services Center Coordinator Megan Nicodemus said that although this is the first year she is involved in the project, DCHS has an established reputation and lasting tradition of service and charity to the community, and she hopes to pass that on to our students and “spark the flame of a servant’s heart.”
Apollo High School senior and student executive council president Grace Bush had heard of Volunteer Owensboro and knew it was a great resource for connecting volunteers to organizations in need, she said. When she began brainstorming ideas for the Apollo Senior Day of Service, she had three goals in mind for the Apollo senior class.
“The first goal was to use one of our last few days at Apollo to give back through service to our Owensboro community,” Bush said. “In the fall, many students within the senior class will leave for colleges outside of Owensboro. It was my hope to give students one final opportunity to give back to the Owensboro community before we call another place home.
Bush said she also hoped to promote the importance of community service to her peers and make a legacy at Apollo that will continue to grow after her class graduates.
“I hope to see the AHS Day of Service continue for years to come and expand to include all members of the graduating class,” she said.
Both schools work with Angie Dewitt, assistant director of Volunteer Owensboro, who contacts and coordinates with the various nonprofit organizations where the students will serve. Bush and Nicodemus said that she is incredibly helpful in finding the opportunities to match the schools’ needs.
“There are so many great opportunities for our students to serve the community, but I am most excited about our kids interacting with the people of the community,” Nicodemus said. “For example, students will be partnered with fifth-grade students at Country Heights during Field Day activities. At Dream Riders, students will be assisting riders from the nursing home. At Smothers Park, students will be passing out packets to downtown businesses.”
Nicodemus uses an online sign up for seniors to choose where they want to spend their service hours and then she coordinates with DCHS staff to supervise at the sites. Doughnuts and bottled waters are sent to each site as well. Prior to the day, she hopes for good weather and good behavior by the students involved with the projects, she said.
Apollo has 65 seniors who have signed up to volunteer at four locations — Crossroads Women’s Shelter, Mentor Kids KY, Common Good Store and the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden.
“The four locations each provide crucial resources to the Owensboro community,” Bush said. “Each project differs in the type of service requested. While assigning students to the locations, it was exciting to see students become passionate about the locations based on their interests and strengths.”
Apollo guidance counselor Christy Dame said that she thinks the participating seniors will feel a sense of pride in doing something for someone else.
“Most students have never experienced true service to others, beyond holding a door or saying bless you when someone sneezes,” Dame said. “I hope that in serving their community the Class of 2019 is driven to become lifelong volunteers.”
AHS seniors will be doing their day of service Monday, May 13.
DCHS will be going 24 locations on Wednesday, May 15.
DeWitt said it takes a lot of coordinating with the schools, nonprofits and Volunteer Owensboro to have a successful day, but that it is worth it to see the next generation impacting the community in a short amount of time.
“Some of these students have never volunteered in the community or know anything about the non-profit they are helping,” DeWitt said. “I enjoy talking with the students after they have volunteered and they share with us their experience.”
Volunteer Owensboro can organize a day of volunteering for various groups. More information is available at their website or emailing DeWitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.