Service provides outlet for students to leave an imprint on the world

Hailey Cho and Nicole Surcel

For some, memories of important points in their life are held within a photo album; for senior Lee Kleck, she looks back on such memories just by glancing at the tattoo on her wrist. The smooth bumps and curves of the cursive writing read “Give me your hand” in Kaqchikel, a language spoken by a young girl living in the village of Tecpán, Guatemala.

Ever since her first interaction with the 6-year-old, Kleck knew she was destined to help the world through service. It was her first time traveling outside of the U.S. to work with children in need, yet she instantly felt a connection with the young girl, named Eva, in Guatemala. Despite there being a language barrier, the two used hand gestures and small phrases to get their ideas across, especially when they made bracelets together, according to Kleck.

“The kids probably [have sparked my interest in service trips],” Kleck said. “I love working with kids, especially [in] third world countries and the kids there—I am a Christian, so doing something that I know God wants me to do I think really makes me feel happy and like I have made him proud.”

After two years of service, Kleck has made the decision to take a gap year to serve in both Costa Rica and Africa.

On a more local scale, South’s Key Club has had quite the impact on students and teachers alike, according to Science Teacher Jessica Pritzker. As the head sponsor, Pritzker estimates that there are about 440 kids involved per year. The club didn’t start out as organized or publicized as it is currently: Key Club was originally made as an offshoot of the international US service association known as Kiwanis, both of which were primarily male, according to Pritzker. Now that Key Club is more plentiful in numbers, they are trying to diversify another area: the financial one.

“I think, first of all, when you are raised in a place like Glenview, regardless of where you live in Glenview, we have more than the average human on the face of this planet,” Pritzker said. “I think that it’s also really powerful to realize that you have the potential to help others regardless of your bank account. So, one of our big things is that we don’t fundraise, we don’t give money to organizations, we only give of ourselves.”

Gianna Cassin, sophomore and Key Club board member, says that despite the stress that can come with planning an event, it is worth being able to be involved with your community and seeing the impact you can make within it. Cassin explains that events in Key Club often involve setting up spreadsheets and sign-ups, sending out emails, and breaking news to those who they don’t have room for. However, she believes it is worth it for the reward she receives on the other side.

“I’d say that something I enjoy most is just putting a smile on people’s faces that I serve,” Cassin said. “Whenever I’m not having the best time, I try to make one person smile or at least one person feel good about what we’re doing—it’s about helping other people, and showing them that your differences don’t matter because you are just there to help them.”

As a member of Key Club’s board next year, sophomore Shoshana Green looks forward to contributing to help spread the positive message of service throughout Glenview. Whether it be local or outreach, she believes that service activities provide the perfect lens to see the world. After all, it was through engaging in Key Club events that Green opened up not only to fellow peers, but to her surrounding community as well.

“I definitely enjoy most getting to work with other people and collaborating with my peers and colleagues,” Green said. “Being able to take something away and learn something from any given service project is so important because you can come out from that experience with a new perspective and new understanding, and I think that’s the most valuable part of any service project.”

It was after spending a night out in the heart of New York City that Green first became aware of the world of service. She and her summer camp worked together with Repair the World, a non-profit organization, to carry out an event notably known as “Midnight Run.” Throughout the night, they traveled around different parts of the city to distribute basic necessities to the homeless, such as food, water, and clothing. Green gained more out of this experience than she had anticipated, which further prompted her to join Key Club.

“It was just really meaningful for me because I got to know these people and I got to really experience the beauty of helping others in need,” Green said. “I love service in general, and being a part of next year’s Key Club Board, I’m really excited to continue to make those connections with other people and continue to learn from them and grow and reapply their values in my own personal life.”