Winters High School seniors Sam Petersen and Esther Myers were each selected as 2019 recipients of a Yolo Youth Service Award (YoYoSA) from the Yolo Community Foundation (YCF), for their dedication as youth volunteers engaging with local nonprofit organizations. YCF, an affiliate of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, awards high school seniors who have served at least 60 hours with a Yolo County nonprofit organization during their junior and/or senior year of high school with a $1,000 scholarship for post-high school education endeavors, which may include college, vocational or technical institute. Additionally, the nonprofit organization sponsoring each YoYoSA student recipient are awarded a $500 grant. Meg Stallard, YCF Board of Directors President and Scholarship Committee Chair, said the YoYoSA scholarships were established to honor students who have performed community service with a nonprofit in Yolo County, to encourage students to volunteer in their community, and to support the nonprofits that they volunteer with. “We also hope that it encourages the students to continue to support local, community organizations into the future,” said Stallard. “And we appreciate the nonprofits that provide this opportunity to students.” The scholarship committee requests letters of recommendation/support from the nonprofits that the students work with/for and consider each candidates’ leadership abilities, commitment to the community service work, the specific project(s) worked on, and the student’s maturity and reliability. Stallard said both Petersen and Myers had outstanding recommendations. Petersen was sponsored by Team Davis and said he has been volunteering with them since the fifth grade, and is going on his seventh year of volunteering as a swim coach with the nonprofit. Team Davis works to help enrich the lives of children and adults with developmental, cognitive and/or physical disabilities living in and around the Davis area through athletic, social, recreational and educational activities. Over his years of community service with Team Davis Petersen has grown up with opportunities for leadership, personal growth and working on team, and experienced first-hand the benefits of dedication to the community. “From different athletes to different coaches cycling through it’s introduced me to different ways of thinking on how other people operate,” Petersen said. “ I always stepped up and was consistently there for all of those years.” Petersen focused his Senior Capstone Project with Team Davis in mind and organized a fundraising event at the Winters City Pool that included exhibition races by Team Davis athletes and the first unofficial free swim of the year. With a goal to host a fun, affordable event that anyone could come to and with the help and prize donations from local business Petersen raised about $1,400 for Team Davis. Myers said she has first began volunteering from before middle school through community service opportunities with her church in delivering food to others during the holidays. She currently serves as co-President along-side Petersen for the WHS Interact Club, and was sponsored by the group. “At a young age I got to see the profound impact an act of service had on people’s lives,” Myers said. “Living in a small community like Winters, I think it’s as easy as it is important to give back to each other.” The Interact Club is a community service club at WHS and its members volunteer at events all over Winters. This year the group focused on projects within the Winters community from hosting a local toy drive for a Winters middle school student diagnosed with cancer, volunteering at the Winters Healthcare Foundation’s Dinner on the Bridge, and assisted at multiple events for Winters Elementary School students. “We try to volunteer at as many community events as we can and make an impact on different groups all around town,” Myers said. Petersen noted over the years the Interact Club has also served with larger scale projects like the Rotarian mission to raise money for polio cure research and helping support endangered animals. Myers said volunteering has made her more humble, given her a greater perspective of her community, and helped her to create important relationships with others in Winters that she otherwise wouldn’t have met. “It’s really easy to go through school and stay in a little bubble of classes and sports and things that seem to only affect you directly, but you miss so much,” said Myers. “Community service has connected me to the rest of Winters and I’ve met a lot of great people I wouldn’t have ever known otherwise.I would encourage any young person to volunteer in their community and give back to this loving place—you will make many important relationships through it.” Both Petersen and Myers plan on staying involved in community service opportunities and are considering joining Rotaract Clubs at their future college campuses. In the fall Petersen will be attending UC Santa Barbara and Myers will be attending UCLA. Youth in Winters are important to community events like Youth Day and Earthquake Festival. Myers said everyone in Winters at some point in their lives has enjoyed something that was the fruit of volunteers, and it’s a privilege to be able to give back to the community. “If you think of volunteering as a chore and not as something you get to do, then of course it’s going to seem grueling and time-consuming,” Myers said. “But the reality is that when a lot of people volunteer a fraction of their time at events or drives, a lot can get done—and the more people who show up, the less time it takes.” Petersen believes there is a real power in consistency when it comes to volunteering. He said choosing to stay and serve at a nonprofit agency for multiple years not only is important to that organization, but also to the individuals who benefit from the nonprofit’s mission. Petersen said by volunteering with Team Davis for seven years he has been able to see children he’s coached grow older and bloom in their different stages of maturity. “It’s easier than you think. Just being there can help out a lot.” said Petersen. “Even if you’re not the best swimmer in the world, being able to be counted on and relied on to help out—It means the world to the athletes having people come back and not just leave after high school or when they’re done with college. When it stops being for a resume or something. They love to see all the people who have stayed consistently. It’s such a unique bond you create.” According to Stallard, YCF usually awards three YoYoSA scholarships, but were able to give four this year thanks to additional funding. “We hope that Winters students will continue to be actively involved in their community, especially with the nonprofits that support the community in so many different ways,” said Stallard. “Community service is very rewarding, and the students probably realize that they ‘get’ more than they ‘give.’” Petersen said groups who are looking to engage WHS student volunteers simply need to reach out to next year’s Interact Club Adviser Jessica Williams to get on their meeting agenda to present or share a volunteer sign up opportunity. “Make your message heard to these kids. Not a lot of them will go out of their way to find a non profit. You have to go to them,” Petersen said. “It really doesn’t take that much time to help out. Even if you do once a month, that’s very helpful to people.” Myers noted when a group reaches out to the Interact Club they’ll reach a group of students who are already interested in service. “Every event in Winters has run successfully because of volunteers—the food booths at the Earthquake Festival, the children’s activities at Youth Day,” Myers said. “I’m grateful for the ability to give back to Winters after it’s given me so much, and this actionable gratitude is something I try to use in my everyday life.”]]>
Petersen and Myers selected as 2019 Yolo Service Award recipients
Two Winters High School seniors were each selected as 2019 recipients of a $1,000 scholarship for their dedication as youth volunteers engaging with local nonprofit organizations.