Summerville is a wonderful “little” town that I have lived in for almost ten years. There is the need and the organizations already set up to give back to the community. Except maybe for the elderly, children need the most help. I focus on two volunteer chances in Summerville that focus on children, Kiwanis and Be a Mentor.
I. Kiwanis Kiwanis has been around in the United States beginning in 1915 and is now all over the world. Its mission is to better the world one child at a time. Kiwanis meets the moniker to think globally and act locally. While the club is donating money toward the Eliminate Project, the club is very active in the local community with children.
Our biggest project is Terrific Kids. We go to schools in our county and students that are improving their grades or behavior or for those that are a good help to other classmates. I have found this very helpful to the self-esteem and confidence of the students and their parents. My 5-year-old nephew recently received this award and was very excited by it. We give the children pins and the parents bumper stickers for the cars. You cannot drive around Summerville without seeing the Terrific Kids bumper stickers for the 8,000 children we reach every school year.
In addition, we read books to Kindergarten children. We create backpacks for children that must be snatched from their homes in the middle of the night. We are developing a relationship with the local Habitat for Humanity to help them build homes. With our golf tournament fund-raiser, we raise money for scholarships for the Summerville High School Key Club members. In the schools, we are starting the “BUG” program which recognizes children that are bringing up their grades similar to the Terrific Kids. I have been in Kiwanis for about six years and have found it very rewarding.
Also, we make our weekly meetings dynamic by having speakers come to us every week. These speakers are charity organizers, interesting businessmen and women and politicians as well. In November, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley accepted our invitation to speak to Kiwanis which was a thrill to us all, an event covered by the Summerville Journal-Scene. By getting good speakers to the weekly meetings, we build the energy to get new members. Many hands make light work.
- II. Be A Mentor – Another way to help children, especially teenagers, is a to be a mentor. This has been in my mind since I have seen my Congressman, Tim Scott, have Public Service Announcements on this issue. He was mentored when he was young and this was important for him to stay out of gangs, not drink or use drugs, or to get involved in sexual activity when he was young. Congressman Scott in the PSA quotes statistics that children that have mentors are less likely to stay out of trouble. With the rising rate of children out of wedlock, it is very important for young boys without fathers to have a male figure to help them avoid sinful and dangerous peer pressure that is rampant in our society today. I cannot testify personally to this mentoring program as I am still waiting to hear back from them. But this is not the only mentoring program in the area. Very recently, we have had speakers from local organizations speak to us who need mentors for troubled youths. Mentoring is a great way to give back to the young of the community.
Look for ways to give back in your community. It will be rewarding for you as well as those that you are helping.