Teenagers lend a hand on service day
Nellie Zacharias is enjoying the view.
Saturday afternoon, five Tonganoxie teenagers -- Nicole and Tina Allen, Kaitlyn and Hilary Saathoff and Kristen Titterington -- visited Zacharias, armed with ladders, buckets, squigees and towels. Within an hour Zacharias' windows were sparkling.
The teens' project, which consisted of going to various homes in the community and doing odd jobs, was part of National 4-H Youth Service Day.
Beth Hecht, Leavenworth County's 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent who helps with the annual event, said about 125 youths and adults volunteered throughout the county.
Zacharias was pleased with the teens' work.
Just a couple of days before, she had said she was looking forward to the Youth Service Day.
"You know my windows have not been washed on the outside for four years," Zacharias said Thursday. "It will be great if I can see out again."
Hecht said this was the fifth year that area youths, as well as adults, have participated in Youth Service Day.
But its teens orchestrate the day.
"This is what I think is so powerful about it ... it's been driven by a group of 4-H teenagers," Hecht said. "They do the work, and they write a grant to help pay for the supplies for the day, as well as refreshments -- that down to the nitty-gritty details -- it's their youth service day."
In the early planning stages, Hecht said, a committee of 12 4-H members plans what it will focus on. For instance, one year it was replacing trees destroyed in a tornado.
Obviously, the day is important in that the youths help others with tasks they might not be able to do themselves, Hecht said.
"But connecting with that citizen, talking with them, visiting with them, we would love for it to be something that you would adopt that person and help them throughout the year," Hecht said. "It's kind of keeping your eye out for them and helping them out."
And, there's more, Hecht said.
"Those citizens are realizing that not all kids are bad, that they can trust some of them and hopefully they will make kind of a bridging-the-generations connection," Hecht said.