Battle Mountain senior Kayla Bruntz has personally benefited from tremendous support of others in the the community and has made it her mission to give back through a plethora of volunteer roles. When she is not managing the Battle Mountain girls soccer team, snowboarding or working with Young Life, Bruntz serves as the community service officer for the Future Business Leaders of America program at her school, striving to help student members recognize ways to get involved with community service. Bruntz' major FBLA project this year will be to compile a volunteer resource directory of various service sites and opportunities for high school students throughout the valley.
"FBLA gives high school students experience in business, leadership and community service. Everybody needs help at some point in their life," Bruntz said, as she and her peers work to connect teen volunteers with those in need.
Bruntz's mother, Rosie Moreno, was her original inspiration for getting involved with service. Moreno serves as the director for Eagle County Head Start and would bring Bruntz along to meetings for extra help with the children. Service has taken on a more fundamental role for Bruntz, as she describes her purpose in giving back to her community as simply "making people happy."
Although children remain closest to Bruntz's heart, as revealed in her three years of volunteering with local preschoolers at the Family Learning Center and serving at the Vail library with summer reading programs, Bruntz recognizes the increased impact of getting her peers involved with service. A specific project in the works with FBLA peers will include gathering donations of basic products such as toothpaste, gloves and socks and assembling care packages for homeless teens and children in the Denver area. Bruntz hopes that the simple structure of this initiative will inspire high schools around the country to serve basic needs through similar hygiene, clothing and food kits.
Bruntz's recommendation for other teens who want to get involved with their community but are unsure where or how to start is to pick something specific that they might want to do in their lives.
"Talk to friends or family members that are in those fields to find a connection," she said.
Bruntz sums up her outlook by saying, "Over the years, many people and programs have helped me, and I welcome any opportunity to give back."
What's next for Bruntz after her May graduation?
"I'd love to work as either a physical therapist or an elementary school teacher," Bruntz said. "I'd love to work directly with children to help inspire them toward higher education, but being a physical therapist would be great, as I could help others through their healing process. I'm having trouble deciding because I've been inspired by both teachers and therapists that have helped me out throughout my life."
Michelle Stecher is executive director of the Eagle River Youth Coalition. The Youth Leaders Council is a program of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers collaborative prevention programs and services to tackle three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth - substance-abuse prevention, emotional wellness and mental-health promotion, and academic achievement. In addition to Youth Leaders Council, Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting classes and training to community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit www.eagleyouth.org.