Student volunteers serve up breakfast at the senior center

Dec 8, 2015

As Rotarians were busy in the kitchen preparing blueberry pancakes, eighth graders in pointy Christmas hats were busy serving up breakfast.

The Rotary Club’s annual pancake fundraiser, held on Dec. 6 at the senior center, helps to fund the group’s community projects. It’s also an opportunity for kids to learn about volunteerism.

In the past, the breakfast has been self-serve, but six students from the National Junior Honor Society joined in to help the Rotary Club.

“Rotary has always had a relationship with the public schools, but it’s been less active recently,” said Rotarian Terry Hamm. “I’m meeting with people to re-energize that relationship.”

She said the relationship runs both ways. The Rotarians are planning to volunteer their time to help student-driven projects, as well.

“For example, the middle school has a clean-up day that they’ll be scheduling with the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust. Some of our members are going to go out and help them,” said Hamm.

The effort to engage more with the school system started recently when a small group of Joshua Mouldings top media students from Dartmouth High helped the Rotary Club program transistor radios for the elderly.

“Even as a small club, we have interest in supporting some of the larger causes like the irradiation of polio globally,” said Rotarian Claude Gelinas. “But this club tends to concentrate most of its efforts for local needs.”

This includes a scholarship program for students. Gelinas said one attribute the group looks for when choosing a scholarship recipient is the student’s engagement with community service.

Nate Stone, 14, said that, as part of the Junior Honor Society, he’s worked at Mercy Meals in New Bedford, as a library assistant for the middle school and as a costumed forest lurker for a Halloween-themed spooky walk.

“I would love to do volunteer work my whole life. I like helping people,” said Stone.

The National Junior Honor Society requires students to maintain a 93 grade point average or higher. They are also required to work at least 10 hours of community service.

“The benefit is that the kids start to see that giving back is not difficult, and it makes them think about future opportunities,” said Hamm.