Vail Daily column: Teen leader passionate about serving others
August 16, 2014
Living in the Vail Valley, we quickly learn that most people come here to consume our beautiful and pristine mountain playground, and as quickly as they come, they're gone. But, how can we blame them for taking advantage of the mountains when most of us came here for the same thing? As tourists, even in our own towns, we forget the impact we're making on the people and environment around us.
Kaylie Evans, a junior at Vail Mountain School, is aware of this impact and has seen firsthand the valley's underlying issues despite the happy-go-lucky feel.
"Some people are not as fortunate living in this valley and (people) need to realize that you need to lend a helping hand," Evans said.
Attending Vail Mountain School, students are highly encouraged to get involved with serving others, so Evans has already been involved with several projects and programs including Youth Leaders Council, International Peer Mentorship Program, Kids Car Club, Eagle Valley Humane Society and MLK Jr. Day. Her family is also very charitable and has all helped with Salvation Army's Adopt a Family as well as sponsoring several events including the only kickball tournament and benefit, where you get a big ol' pile of flapjacks. Outside of volunteering, Evans is pretty active with volleyball, water sports, reading and loves being around people.
“In the Vail Valley, you grow up in a bubble. Growing up here is a blessing and a curse. You just have to open up to see the problems, and that’s why I love traveling and seeing other parts of the world.”
Although Evans has been actively involved with service, her passion didn't really click until a trip to a small village in Kenya to build an Eco-Hut that would hold guests for orphanage visitors.
"In the Vail Valley, you grow up in a bubble," Evans said. "Growing up here is a blessing and a curse. You just have to open up to see the problems, and that's why I love traveling and seeing other parts of the world."
Despite having to outrun an elephant and getting through the back-breaking work, Evans was able to build some incredible relationships and see firsthand how appreciative the community was of the lasting impact. Evans says that her favorite part about serving others is seeing the result.
"I'm the kind of person who has to know the end goal and see what I've accomplished," Evans said. "I hope that others see that what they're doing is helping, no matter how small the change."
'Keep Your Head Up'
The biggest thing that impresses me about Evans is her "deal with it and move on" attitude. A few years ago she survived a very traumatic skiing accident, having to undergo seven surgeries. When most people would just check out of life, Evans has been empowered by her experience and has moved on, living by her motto, "Push through and keep your head up." Short, simple and powerful words.
"There's nothing that's going to change, so I'm going to use this to my advantage," Evans said.
Since the accident, Evans has been turned onto the idea of becoming a doctor in order to directly help people and make a visible difference. Believe it or not, she is working toward this goal this summer through an internship at a Argentinian hospital where she is fine-tuning her Spanish skills while observing surgeries and operations.
Long story short, Evans is simply awesome, and if we didn't have people such as the Evanses or the Gandhis), then we would all just be focused on one thing in life, ourselves.
Drew Kartos is the marketing coordinator 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 http://www.eagleyouth.org.