Westfield High School students create volunteer network for community
By Anna Skinner
One of Westfield High School’s many goals is helping students accomplish great things. Thanks to the school’s executive committee, a branch of WHS Student Government, two recently graduated seniors have done just that.
Alongside the help from the other six WHS Executive Committee members, Lauren Huser and Shannon Webb have set up a website to match willing volunteers with current volunteer opportunities in the community.
“It was a team effort with help from Mikaylah Gross to set up the website,” Webb said. “We all realized that there were a lot of seniors and kids around the Westfield community that wanted and needed to volunteer. The Volunteer Network website is a great way to do that.”
The network, online at http://rockleadersvolunteer.com, is an easily accessible place for residents to search for volunteer opportunities. With clubs such as the National Honor Society and Key Club that require volunteer hours, this website is just what students needed.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to place community members in volunteer activities happening around the city,” Executive Committee Co-sponsor Mark Ewing said. “We hope this will directly benefit the citizens and businesses of our community.”
The executive committee generally puts most of its concentration toward one big project each year. Last year, students noticed a need to match potential volunteers with volunteer opportunities and focused on the creation of this website.
“Westfield High School students are not strangers to volunteer work,” said Alex Gable, executive committee co-sponsor. “Many students are willing to serve and regularly donate their time to help their school and community.”
“Once all the information was gathered, WordPress [the program used to create the website] was really easy to use,” Huser said. “We had a few checkmarks to get past, but after a couple of drafts, we were ready to present it to the city council.”
The executive committee presented the Volunteer Network to the Westfield City Council and has partnered with Mayor Andy Cook and the city.
“I am proud that these students took the initiative to actively search out the needs of the Westfield community and develop a solution to fill that need,” Cook said. “I hope that this site grows and develops as our city grows and continues to be a portal for residents who want to get involved.”
Once they got the idea approved, the executive committee emailed different organizations and asked what they should include on the website. Cook also promised to help with advertising to attract more businesses to the Volunteer Network.
Any business organization interested in putting its name and volunteer opportunities on the website should contact executive committee members through Westfield High School teachers Mark Ewing and Alex Gable at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Those interested in participating in any volunteer activities available through the Volunteer Network should visit http://rockleadersvolunteer.com.
After seeing the effects that the website has had on Westfield students and business so far, the executive committee members feel very accomplished.
“It’s nice knowing that you had a part with something so helpful to the community,” Webb said.
Westfield Parks and Recreation, one of the businesses invited to join the Volunteer Network, is very pleased and appreciative to be included in the website.
“We have so many projects and events that we absolutely could not do without the help of volunteers,” Recreation Program Coordinator Stephanie Baumann said. “We are happy to be a part of anything that helps get the word out since volunteer recruitment can be very challenging.”
Baumann also says that she imagines any agency would be grateful for the help this website provides. Some of the volunteer opportunities included on the website for Parks and Recreation are getting involved in Westfield Rocks the 4th, Race Across Hamilton County, Adopt-a-Prairie, and the Westfield in Bloom Committee.
While school is out for summer vacation, the Volunteer Network will be updated by students. For next year, both Huser and Webb hope that the new executive committee members will keep the website going strong.
“We truly hope that Westfield students and citizens actually use the website,” Huser said. “We believe that we can make Westfield a better place with these volunteer opportunities.”
Every high school desires to make their building a better place and their students better people.
In the eyes of Westfield High School, the best way to obtain that task was by creating the Westfield Executive Committee. The committee is a key group of students who demonstrate leadership skills on a daily basis.
The 2012-2013 executive committee consisted of Lauren Huser, Shannon Webb, Nathan Manworren, Tolu Odimayomi and Jacob Tebbe. Teachers Mark Ewing and Alex Gable established the committee two years ago.
“The idea was to get good kids out and visible in the community,” Ewing said. “We also wanted to create a leadership program in the school and guide these students in becoming leaders in the student body.”
Each year, the executive committee works on a main project and completes 12 hours of community service. This year, students had to fill out an application and receive two teacher recommendation letters in hopes of gaining a spot on the committee.
Seven of the eight members graduated this year, so Ewing and Gable held a ceremony on June 3 where the new members were inducted.