Pennsylvania Youth Leads by Example, Starts Teen Service Group to Encourage Peers to Give Back

Daily Point of Light # 6174 Jan 12, 2018
Nick and a fellow volunteer participated in making meals for kids at summer day camps using food from a local foodbank. /Courtesy Nick Moncilovich

Fifteen-year-old Nick Moncilovich already has more than five years of volunteer service under his belt. Nick credits his mom for nudging him in the direction of service. But for this hard-working high schooler, serving solo wasn’t the plan. He wanted to get his friends involved, and founded Voluntweens of Drexel Hill as a platform for giving back in a multitude of ways. How to lead and allowing others to lead, are two skills Moncilovich has learned along the way.

Describe your volunteer role with Voluntweens of Drexel Hill.

When I was in 4th grade my mom and I started going to our local SPCA shelter and dropping off food and blankets we had collected from the neighbors. [Then] over the summer, I got the idea of creating a volunteer group with some of my classmates (with some help from my mom – basically telling me to go outside and hang out with friends, rather than sit inside and play on my gaming system!)

I came up with the name Voluntweens of Drexel Hill and wrote a letter to hand out to about 10 of my classmates. Over the next four years, from elementary school through middle school we worked with more than 20 different organizations ranging from cancer support groups to veterans homes, hospitals, women’s shelters, and food banks. Every month, we tried to help a different organization so that it would be new and exciting each time. My role grew from vocal leader in the beginning to more of a passive leader because I learned that if each member felt like they were a leader of a monthly project, they would feel more inspired and want to keep coming back for another turn leading the group. Our group grew to 14 students as primary members, but each month we had lots of the community helping us complete our goals.

Nick (back row, third from right) joing volunteers at Bringing Home Home to pack backpacks with school supplies./Courtesy Nick Moncilovich

Why is it important to you to support your community in this way?

I think it is important to support our community in any way possible and especially now with social media to project positive messages to younger kids. When we were in the middle school we were often asked to come to the elementary schools and talk to the younger kids about what they can do to make a difference. During that time the school district honored my group with the Superintendent’s Award and made a video that they could play in classrooms throughout our school district.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your volunteer service? 

It’s difficult to find the time that I had when I was younger. Now that I’m in high school, I feel I need to study more, and I also participate in more sports, leaving the weekends for volunteering. Luckily, I attend The Haverford School for Boys, which encourages the students to not only be excellent academically, and athletically, but also teaches that we are responsible for giving back to society. I am proud to have been chosen as one of four Maguire Scholars representing THS (The Haverford School). THS has great a volunteering department headed by Ms. Loos, and she helps organize many opportunities for us to get more involved in the community.  We have done can drives for food banks, held baseball tournaments for cancer fundraisers, toy collections, and many other events.

Why do you think it’s important to give back?  

There are many reasons, but one is it helps you grow as a person and gain a different perspective on things that you may have taken for granted. Secondly it gives you a sense of purpose and self-worth knowing you are helping others.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

The most rewarding for me is personally feeling the sense of accomplishment knowing I am helping someone, and also making all the new social connections with people I may have never met.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

I have learned through my experiences how to work better with others, how to manage time and groups of people, and increase my patience. It also helped with leadership skills and how to know when to step back and let others lead.

Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about?

Going forward in the next few months and years, I am excited to work with my schools’ volunteer programs and as a Maguire Scholar with the Maguire Foundation’s Hunger and Homeless mission.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

I want to convey that you are never too young to start volunteering and that no idea is a bad idea. To be compassionate, and take pride in yourself while helping others. Also, find the need in your own community in which you live and don’t turn away from it.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Nick? Visit All For Good to find local volunteer opportunities.

Jia Gayles