Volunteering on behalf of our youth is highly prized in Rancho Cordova. But what about those outstanding teens who are giving of their time and talent to others?
It is always a pleasure to shine a light on the wonderful things young people are doing in our community. Despite what you might think, teens in our town care about each other and their community and want to help.
Tonight we would like to focus on two ideas:
First, it is never too early to start making volunteering a way of life.
Second, young volunteers can make the kind of contribution that has adults shaking their heads and saying, "We could not have done it without you."
Let me explain:
Logan Shelton's story is inspiring because of the early age at which he began volunteering.
Back when he was in the fifth grade, Logan lived across the street from the Rancho Cordova Library. He found the library to be a wonderful place to be, and though just 10 years old, began a volunteer career with Mr. Tim Tomasik, the Children's Librarian. It started Logan on a path that continues today.
As a special helper for the Youth Services Librarian, Logan completed many tasks, including helping set up for special library events, shelving books, even reading to other children. From the tender age of 10 to the age of 16, Logan was a regular volunteer at the library, providing hundreds of hours of help and proving that everybody is capable of contributing, no matter your age.
Logan, Mr. Tim recalled this:
"I believe Logan had only just completed the 5th grade when he started to volunteer for us. He did the usual tasks that kids of that age did: cutting out and preparing materials for craft programs for other kids, counting out fliers advertising program events into bundles for delivery to classrooms or community organizations, and helping to set up the library meeting room for programs, and helping put things back into order afterward. Later, I recall that he helped cut out some felt figures for the flannel boards I used, and still use, for storytelling. His contribution there was lasting indeed. Some of those figures are still being used by me with kids to this day."
As he grew, so did his contributions, branching out from the library and deeper into the community. Today Logan volunteers at community events like the Fourth of July.
His fascination with computers led him to volunteer at a Sacramento internet advertising company which led to a part-time job -- another great reason for youth to volunteer: it may set you down the Yellow Brick Road - the path to success!
Logan, you are a wonderful example how, with some heart, some brains and some courage, you can make a difference, no matter your age.
Logan was also a helper at the Cordova Community Council's Summer of it All free outdoor movie and concert series. And that is where we met another group of exemplary teens.
Murphy Thao, Timothy Thao, Steve Cheng, Antonio Cheng and Justin Lee comprise a group of young men who provide a great example of what volunteer service is all about and how youth can make a difference.
They started out as members of the Cordova High School Interact Club, volunteering alongside their peers at various community events throughout the year, then started looking for even more opportunities to serve.
As members of Interact they have helped out at Kids Day in the Park, iFest and the Community Christmas Tree Lighting, but when school was out, this group of young men still kept calling to see if there was anything they could do to help.
They were enlisted to assist with our Summer Movie and Concerts nights, setting up equipment, picking up garbage, helping vendors move in and out, distributing fliers to the audience - then staying to the very end to make sure everything down to the last traffic cone was stowed away and the park was even cleaner than when they arrived.
They were there in the 112 degree heat, working tirelessly at the Fourth of July, long after the final fireworks had died away.
When a mission to rescue 40 years of issues of the Grapevine Newspaper was undertaken, it was these guys who did the heavy lifting. And when local artists held their first Brushes and Brews event at a local brewery they helped set up and returned to put it all away, even though they could not stay for the fun because of to their young age.
They were there to do the hard clean up work for Rotary's Poker Night fundraiser, and for Ted Gaebler's Retirement party, even though they were not invited for the festivities. They helped again for the unglamorous job of scrubbing down more than 100 garbage cans to be deployed on the Mitchell, Mills and Cordova High campuses, just because the job needed to be done.
When we learned an elderly couple who lived up north needed wood to warm a home for the winter months, this same group of young men heard the need and packed their bags for a weekend of long days of hard labor, finishing in a single weekend what would have taken others many days, and assuring a warm home for those who benefitted.
We are so impressed by these guys and look forward to working with them again and watching them grow into the fine men they promise to be. But for now, we want them to know, "We Couldn't Do it Without You."
You will be challenged many times as you go through life, of that you can be sure. But you are already on the Yellow Brick Road to success and happiness, and who knows what you might find over the rainbow?