Jumpstarting service: Sociology students turned community volunteers
Special things are happening because of high-school Jump Start students taking a Sociology 101 course at Western Nevada College Fallon.
This semester, instructor Deborah McBride offered her students 30 extra credit points if they volunteer 15 hours in the community. Fallon gained numerous volunteers, a mix of Churchill County High School, Oasis Academy and home-schooled students. Many of these driven and caring pupils shared their thoughts with the LVN about how their service became more than course credit.
“I am trying to get the students to learn about other populations in our community,” said McBride, who’s also a counselor for the incarcerated with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department and a crisis, sexual assault and rape interventionist. “My students would never ask, but I feel it would be nice to let the community know what my students are doing to help the people and animals in our community.”
Many of the sandbags protecting community members from potential flooding are because of young volunteers like Orin Sommer and Supathcha Moolrangsi.
“When I think about service, it’s kind of scary almost I guess, or it feels like it’s going to be hard,” Sommer said. “But in the actual act, I’m not thinking about how hard it is; I am thinking about how I’m helping other people.”
Moolrangsi added doing the effort with friends makes it that much more fun.
Meghan Rosario lends her time and energy to kindergartners at Oasis Academy, while Hannah Stewart donates her attention to an older population at The Homestead. Rosario said she enjoys the smaller community of Fallon, because she saw one of her students at Walmart with the little girl’s mother — and it meant a lot when the mom said she had heard so much about Rosario.
Stewart explained how she volunteers at The Homestead because her parents are older, and she would want someone to visit them later in life too. She said she spent an hour and a half talking to two residents, a man who served in World War II who was “so kind and had so many stories,” and a woman who would get a huge smile on her face talking about her grandchildren.
“My community service isn’t like these guys,” John Frandsen said smiling. “They go out and actually help the community, where mine’s more personal benefit.”
Frandsen helps manage CCHS sports by taking statistics, funneling into his career goal.
“But I like doing what I do, and I feel like it helps out sports students in the community.”
Britney Davis lines fields for Fallon Youth Baseball and also serves breakfast at Eagles Hall.
“You get to know people just by serving them coffee,” she observed.
Austin Lunderstadt volunteers at Parkside Bible Fellowship, and his mom also drove him and some friends to shovel snow for those in need over the winter.
“I’m motivated by the fact that I know I’m helping people that often times can’t help themselves,” he said “I think that’s comforting, knowing I’m making other people’s lives better.”
Becca McKnight also spoke to finding motivation. She helps in three classrooms at Lahontan Elementary School, where her mom also works.
“I have to wake up early; sometimes I don’t want to do that on my Fridays,” she said with a grin. “I guess my motivation is the kids. I’ll help with their testing … I like to see them and their improvement.”
Mara Garcia has spent time with the Toys for Tots foundation.
“Just seeing their faces makes my day,” she said of children receiving gifts.
Josh Coblentz said when finding inspiration to serve, he remembered how he felt after doing community service before: “reluctant at first but afterward it’s rewarding.”
Kailee Youles, who volunteered for the Nevada Department of Wildlife among other sites, added seeing her parents involved in service was a helpful example to follow.
Megan Lanski interns with the city, assisting on events such as the Mayor’s Cup Golf Tournament and the Christmas celebration at City Hall where there’s cookie-decorating.
“I get to know my community more and more, and just the type of people that are in it,” she said of the gatherings that bring many different types of people together. “There’s a lot of different people out there I didn’t know were here — I really like that.”
The students also shared how the blend of sociology and volunteering has led them to always try to keep an open mind and be accepting of everyone.
McBride added they sometimes talk about “sticky, uncomfortable topics” in class but practice a safe environment to discuss ideas and speak opinions.
“I’ve learned everybody has their own unique story,” Frasden said. “Everybody has a different background, and that’s what kind of makes up our own unique society.”
Frandsen said to have an equal society, one has to be fair to everybody, and you can never judge people based on their backgrounds.
“Definitely treat everyone with equality,” Garcia agreed among others. “No matter what culture, what gender, no matter what beliefs they have.”
Sommer discussed how while sandbagging he could see how sometimes in society or a community — for example with voting — people may think what they do doesn’t affect anything.
“Even with just one more person it makes a huge difference,” he said of the sandbag process. “So even if you seem small in your community, you actually can make a really big difference.”
Brandon Evers added you never really know what someone else is going through.
“You’ve never lived in their shoes,” he said, mentioning he’s been through a lot and it’s hard for someone else to fully understand. “This class opened my eyes to many more things and helped me explain it a little better I think.”
Moolrangsi suggested http://www.JustServe.org is a great way to see how you can volunteer.
“Great job,” McBride said to her students. “Feel good about yourselves.”