Community service that counts | Celeste Gracey | Reporter's Notebook
By CELESTE GRACEY
Issaquah Reporter Staff Writer
July 26, 2012 · Updated 4:42 PM
I had the pleasure of watching an 8-year old with physical obstacles light up at the sight of what seemed to be his best friend, a talented Skyline High School athlete.
The two played baseball like brothers. My dress pants and hefty camera didn’t make a difference in their game of tag. I was the outsider to this special friendship, which was brought together through Athletes for Kids.
This week our sports writer, Josh Suman, features the program on the front page. I shot the photos for it.
The program, now almost a decade running, pairs high school athletes with young kids who have disabilities or handicaps.
It shows the kids that they are valued enough to be friends even with the coolest people in school. It also encourages the youngsters – from the beginning of life – to be out in the community.
However, perhaps my favorite part is that it teaches high school students how to care for people. They give themselves over to a friendship where they must always give, even if they don’t receive.
In a community where educational excellence and athletic commitment earn little more than a spot in the middle of the ladder, community service is often used to boost achievements on college resumes.
Community service is always a welcome sight. However, there is something desirable to be found in the students who serve even after they’ve met their school or community requirements. They’re the type that continue without recognition.
After finishing my photos, I told Nate Gibson, a mentor, how cool it was that he joined the program. Shrugging it off, he said he really loves hanging out with his buddy, and then sprinted back out to throw the ball around a bit longer.
Gibson went through an extensive interviewing process to become a mentor that’s intended to weed out students who might flake after they’ve earned their hours or who really aren’t a good match for the program.
I applaud the high expectations. Not only is the program protecting its young kids, but also it’s challenging the mentality that community service is about more than resume building.
If a person’s only reason to “give back” is for the recognition, then that’s all they’ll find. I’ve been there. It’s a hollow feeling.
However, for the students who give out of love and sincerity, like many of the athletes in this program, the returned friendship is a true delight.
Issaquah Reporter staff writer Celeste Gracey can be reached at 425-391-0363, ext. 5052.Contact Issaquah Reporter Staff Writer Celeste Gracey at email@example.com or 425-391-0363.