Jenny Evans has been involved in service and volunteerism her entire life. She has traveled to foreign countries to offer aid and has always worked as a valuable volunteer within her local community. She is currently serving as the President of the South Summit High School Interact Service Club, and in September 2000 Jenny organized a mentoring program that utilizes high school students as positive role models for every seventh-grade student in their district.
South Summit School District is located in a small town called Kamas where the youth were struggling with drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and crime. With the help of other concerned youth, Jenny established this program as a preventative measure to address the issues that were facing these young people. With the recommendation of the principal at the school, and because of the generally impressionable nature of that age group, Jenny and the club chose to focus their efforts on the seventh grade class. The volunteers help the children feel accepted while teaching them about the benefits of service. They join together monthly to participate in the service endeavors that are planned and carried out solely by members of the Interact Club. The younger children are given important responsibilities that help them feel a sense of ownership for the projects they participate in.
This program truly connects not only the middle school and high school students, but also affects the entire community. The youth carried out a program for local senior citizens for Halloween and joined with other clubs at the school to collect money and sponsor a Sub-for-Santa project for needy families in their area. They are currently planning a hunger banquet that will involve the entire community as they raise awareness about world starvation and invite attendees to make a monetary pledge to a charity of their choice.
The effects of this program are significant and enduring. Although this particular program began in September, the Interact Club has been participating in service since 1997, and club members plan to continue their mentoring efforts into next school year. Most importantly, as these young people realize the wonderful benefits of service, many will embrace an attitude of service that will continue throughout the rest of their lives. The young people that are participating in this program are gaining self-esteem, learning the value of service, and are truly helping to improve others’ lives. The volunteers are providing positive role models for the children as they teach, and learn themselves, more about the powerful impact of offering selfless service.
The idea of a mentoring program in general is not new, but the approach that these youth, led by Jenny Evans, have taken is very impressive. They are addressing so many needs through this one program because they have integrated numerous goals into one program that benefits everyone involved. Through innovative service ideas that reach out to a variety of people and address a plethora of community challenges, they truly are making a difference.