Vail Daily column: Humble teen pays it forward
Ryan Summerlin January 18, 2014
Going about the daily grind and preoccupying ourselves with the occasional powder day, we often are oblivious to people who are donating their time trying to make a difference in the community, not asking for anything in return for their service. For many of us, it takes years to see firsthand the power of volunteering and subsequently being inspired to give back. Rarely do we see people at such a young age realize the power of leadership and the importance of giving back to their community. Oliver Pilas is one of rare kind, who does see the important things in life at such a young age. Once Pilas was exposed to the nonprofit scene, he said “it opened my eyes to a whole new world.”
Pilas, a junior at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, first learned about the power of service through his own experience with SOS Outreach through the Learn to Ride program. Pilas was hooked after his first year and has since participated for five years; he is currently in the SOS Masters program, which is designed to further develop communication and leadership skills. Pilas is now “paying it forward” as a Junior Sherpa and has taken on a young group of SOS participants to mentor, all while shredding some of Colorado’s most pristine mountains. Just as his older brother was a great role model, Pilas wants to inspire young adolescents to do good with their lives, saying “the fact that you can work and be seen as leaders through the community’s eyes interests me.”
Although humble about his own abilities, the word on the slopes is that he is an incredible snowboarder. In fact, he even had the chance to live in New Zealand for a summer to train for a potential spot on the Mexican National Snowboard Team. Not only is he a talented snowboarder and involved with SOS Outreach and the Youth Leaders Council, but he has also been involved with the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, Minturn river clean-up and school chess tournaments, among others.
Looking forward, Pilas plans on graduating from VSSA in 2015 and then going to college to pursue a MBA. We have no doubt that his leadership skills will take him far and he will see much success. Before he flies the coop, though, he will continue to make a dent in this valley, indicating social deprivation as a major issue with today’s youth. He said that he wants other students to “feel like they are a part of something instead of playing video games; that they can go outside and help the community, feel like a part of society.” That’s one reason he’s stayed with SOS, because it helps includes youth into a loving and accepting community. “Those people you’re helping are able to have more opportunities. They can become inspired to do the same.” Community service is “essential to keeping the community together. Kind of like economy — you put in to get something out. People have to put time into the community in order for it be prosperous.”
Drew Kartos is the marketing coordinator, Americorps VISTA at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. 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 including: 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 education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit www.eagle youth.org.