Friday, August 10, 2001

Teens lend helping hand

For a week, they live and work in city

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Instead of vegging away the last days of summer, teen-agers Jeanese Kemp and Ryan Hayhow sat at a table giggling with two senior citizens Thursday morning.

        “We're glad you came,” Dorothy Washington told the high school student volunteers at the Salvation Army Wilson Downtown Adult Center in Over-the-Rhine.

[photo] New friends Dorothy Washington (left) and Jeanese Kemp, 17, enjoy a joke at an activity center.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        Jeanese and Ryan are among 17 students from Finneytown, Roger Bacon and Withrow high schools volunteering this week through the Mayerson Summer Service Program, sponsored by the Mayerson Foundation. Sixteen students from Aiken, Bishop Brossart, Fairfield and Hughes high schools volunteered in July.

        Students and 10 teachers worked at sites ranging from Espy Boys & Girls Club in Lower Price Hill to a Cincinnati Recreation Commission therapeutic camp for kids with disabilities in College Hill.

        Ryan's favorite experience has been at Espy, where he's played pool, table tennis and basketball with the kids.

        “The kids love to see you. They're starved for attention,” said the 16-year-old Roger Bacon junior from Finneytown. “When you give your time and make somebody feel better, it touches you. It makes you feel better about yourself.”

        Students logged more than 60 hours of community service. At the end of each day, they listened to speakers, visited other community agencies and had reflection time. They stayed overnight at Hebrew Union College.

        Students should volunteer because it builds character, said Jeanese, a 17-year-old Withrow senior from Madisonville. “It gives people a better understanding of not only who they are, but who others are. Too many people have some preconceived notion.”

        Lynn Volz, an Advanced Placement history and economics teacher at Finneytown, shepherded students during the week.

        “They're much more open to talk to or accept people whom they normally might have passed by before. A lot of them said how thankful they are for having a roof over their head and good meals,” Mr. Volz said.

        Service learning gets students out of their comfort zones and challenges them to see a different perspective, said Steve Elliott, consultant to the Mayerson Foundation's High School Community Service Program.


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