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Giving back to the community

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com
Churchill County Librarian Jeslyn MacDiarmid signs up senior high-school students as volunteers.
STEVE RANSON / LVN |

Churchill County High School student Gracie Lawton is one of many seniors who talked to representatives of nonprofit organizations, inquiring about available volunteer opportunities for the next two months.

A senior, Lawton, along with her classmates, must volunteer at least six hours as part of their senior-year project to see what it is like to give back to the community and to learn from the experience.

Lawton said she is interested in volunteering at the Churchill County Library where she will have the opportunity to learn more about books and how they’re organized and to work with young students. She figures that will help her during her college freshman year when she will spend much more time in the library researching information for term papers and other reports.

“It’ll give me an idea where things are at the university level,” she said.

Lawton also likes what the museum offers.

“They have some cool artifacts, and I can learn more about the community,” she said.

Likewise, Tristen Thomson said seniors face many decisions in selecting an organization in which to volunteer. He’s leaning toward Homestead.

At the Churchill Economic Development Authority table, Eric Sabatino talked to Executive Director Rachel Dahl about the agency and the politics involved.

“I like to see the business development and what it takes to finish a project.

English teacher Monica Fairbanks said this senior project gives students an opportunity to engage with the community and then report to class on the experiences.

“This gives them something new, something out of the box,” she said.

Fairbanks has been supervising students in their senior project for four years. Fellow English teacher Myke Nelson, she figures, has been involved with the seniors for six to seven years. By beginning the selection process now, Fairbanks said seniors will be able to complete their six hours of volunteer service by Nov. 2.

‘This gives them enough time because many of them are involved in sports or other activities,” Fairbanks said. “The beginning of the year is so heavy for them.”

Fairbanks said she likes the idea of the students giving of themselves. During the past four years she said many students tell her they are going to dislike the experience, but when the volunteering ends, they tell Fairbanks they like it.

“Many of the volunteers say they want to volunteer every month,” she said.

The experience culminates with a 5-minute report to the class, which, for Fairbanks and the students, is one of the highlights of the senior year.

Fairbanks and Nelson changed the format this year. Instead of students canvassing the community looking for volunteer opportunities, the organizations came to the high school auditorium where representatives gave an overview on their activities, and then students visited tables that were set up in the hallway.

Fairbanks said the set up reminds her how a job fair is set up.

Zeeta Augello, program assistant for the Churchill County Senior Center, said the students will learn about the community and senior citizens.

“Sure, they have had seniors in their lives,” said Augello but they will realize how important it is to volunteer.”

Augello said she is hopeful the students who volunteer at the center will be able to have interaction with the senior citizens.

“The students are pretty thrilled with it,” Augello said of past experiences. “One student handed out lunch one day.”

At the museum, Jennifer Jones said students assist during the fall lecture series by showing people to the presentation or helping with other duties.

“They will be the ones who usher the visitors in,” Jones said.

Chidlren’s librarian Jeslyn MacDiarmid said seniors will be working with the young children.

“We have a variety of activities to for them to get a better idea of the library and how it functions,” she said.