In Your Corner

Teen volunteers can make a difference

by Annaleah Atkinson – Special to THE GARDEN ISLAND

On Oct. 28, youths from all over the United States will be volunteering for various projects to help make a difference in their communities. The variation in projects is almost as great as the number of kids themselves. They volunteer at humane societies, in parks, in nursing homes and at their churches and schools. They even create some of their own projects, such as collecting food for their local foot banks.

“It’s particularly important that youth volunteers understand that community service can be — and often should be — more than hard labor,” states the American Bar Association Technical Assistance Bulletin #25. “Service learning has shown itself very promising as a way for students to understand and appreciate responsibility and contributions to society.”

In his book, “Nonviolent Communication, a Language of Life,” Marshall B. Rosenberg states that one of a person’s basic needs is to “contribute to the enrichment of life.” Volunteering for an organization that supports something you believe in makes a person feel like they are contributing to the enrichment of life. It makes us feel good, and proud.

In the times when it seems that everything somehow gets measured monetarily, it will always be true that those who volunteer are rich. They give of their energy, their passion, their time and their love. They have more than enough. They have enough to give to others. They are truly rich.

There are many organizations on Kaua‘i that depend upon volunteers to survive. Teen Court is one of them. The Humane Society is another. The Mayor’s office has created “Ka Leo o Kaua‘i”, the voice of Kaua‘i. Community members in various districts meet monthly to discuss what needs to be done in their own communities. Catherine Stovall or Theresa Koki facilitate the meetings and report the community information back to the county. The county then may be able to supply some of the materials needed, and the local community does the work. Community bonds are made, the community gets what’s needed, and often there’s a feast or celebration at the end of the day’s work.

To find out when your local Ka Leo o Kaua‘i meets, call Catherine Stovall at 241-6398, or look up Kaua‘i on the Web and browse for it.

It is one of the tasks of adolescence to find one’s talents, gifts, passions and special abilities, and how to build them into one’s life. Volunteering for different projects can help a teen discover what they really want to do.

“In Your Corner” is a phrase that means support. Its origin comes from boxing: In between rounds, the boxer retires to his corner, and a group of people gives him coaching, medical help, water and support.

Several adults have “stepped into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support in the boxing ring of life!

They are county community response specialist Catherine Stovall, public defender Edmund Acoba, county prosecuting attorney Craig DeCosta, KPD officer Paul Applegate, superintendent of schools Daniel Hamada, DOE Mokihana director Jill Yoshimatsu and Hale ‘Opio teen court manager Annaleah Atkinson.

E-mail Annaleah at aatkinson@haleopio.org, or snail mail her at Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i Inc., 2959 Umi Street, Lihu‘e, Hawai‘i 96766. She will field it to the person who can best help with the answer.

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