Community service: More than a resume builder | VailDaily.com

Community service: More than a resume builder

Beth Pantzer
Youth Leader Spotlight
Vail, CO Colorado

Special to the DailyTessa Vlaar, a recent graduate of Vail Christian High School, has been a part of many community service opportunities in the Vail Valley. She says those experiences made her more appreciative of her community and have helped her learn about her own strengths and weaknesses.

Staying busy in high school really isn’t that hard. Recent Vail Christian High School graduate Tessa Vlaar can attest to that.

“When I wasn’t choreographing or critiquing for my dance team I was at student council fundraisers, Academic Decathlon meets, participating in National Honors Society, working at Village Market grocery store, as well as participating in Youth Leaders Council. I like to keep busy!” Vlaar said.

Even her free time is filled with dancing, reading, writing, hiking and spending time with her family. But, overall, involvement was and still is a particular passion that didn’t only look good on her resume.

“It is so easy to fall into a pattern of wanting to serve for another block to put on a resume, but once you stop and see the impact of even one piece of your service, that pattern falls to the relish of helping to better the community you live in,” she said.

Having experienced first hand the kindness of the Vail Valley, Vlaar is appreciative of her community and finds her service that much more worthwhile.

“My community is my payment for my service,” she said.

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Although Vlaar experienced many community service opportunities as a student at Vail Christian High School, it is one project with Eagle River Youth Coalition’s Youth Leaders Council that sticks out.

“In the middle of winter about two years ago, Youth Leaders Council offered free steaming hot chocolate to unsuspecting patrons at ECO Bus stations,” she said. “It was my favorite experience not only because of the looks of surprise and gratitude from bus-riders, but the great leadership I saw in those who were in the program. They were genuine community lovers and amazing examples of the camaraderie in this program.”

Through Youth Leaders Council, Vlaar said she opened herself up to the diversity of a group and learned about the importance of group dynamics in leadership. It also helped her discover her own weaknesses and provided the opportunity to change them into strengths. As a result, learning has been a key outcome of Vlaar’s service.

“You can talk about changing the world and making a difference all day,” she said, “but the ones crazy enough to get out there and do it will learn more than they ever expected.”

Beth Pantzer is program coordinator for 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 trainings to community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit http://www.eagleyouth.org.