Have No Fear, Volunteer!

Sophia Ugorets, Staff Writer

Volunteering benefits many people and communities by building connections and improving well-being. Opportunities can range from environmental clean-up to assisting senior citizens. In addition to being an excellent way to spend time, volunteer hours reflect a student’s dedication to the care of their community.

Belle Harig, ‘24, has been volunteering since 6th grade. She has accumulated over 50 hours, which helped her get accepted into the National Honors Society (NHS). 

Harig describes being a part of NHS as, “helping offer [me] more volunteer opportunities to better the community” and “spend time with like-minded and caring people.” 

Harig explains that she mainly volunteers at a program called “Sparklers” where she teaches special needs high schoolers how to cheer as well as chaperoning games and competitions.

Dani Pham, ‘24, is another Minnetonka student who proudly volunteers. However, she takes a slightly different approach. Rather than devoting a few hours weekly, Pham volunteers “at a summer family camp in Bemidji for indigenous tribes.” 

Pham learned about this opportunity through her church. When looking back on the experience, she describes feeling “inspired from seeing all of the positive and resilient people around her” that managed to find “happiness within immense traumas and difficulties.”

She believes that people should volunteer to “realize how much you have and to connect with other communities first-hand.”

Students who volunteer commonly find themselves changed for the better, with a more open mindset and increased empathy. It can be very eye-opening to work with communities who are so different from their own.

Sarah Johnson, a Community Service Specialist at Minnetonka High School, is passionate about MHS students volunteering. She regularly updates volunteer opportunities on the Schoology class pages as well as the Tonka Serves website and the Tonka Serves Schoology page (for which the code is “RBKFD-7QB38”).

Johnson believes that “volunteering is about bettering the lives of individuals and putting yourself out there to help the community” as well as “creating bonds within a community.”

In addition to assisting community members, volunteers better themselves through “learning new skills” and “developing their confidence and self-esteem”.