Key Club Community Activism

Sebastian Arreola

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     Collaboration to enact change has unified those around the world who share the common desire to improve the lives of others. Helping those in need has built a connection among community members to be there for one another in overcoming challenging obstacles.

    In the world today, helping others is meaningful and significant, and there are now over 50 organizations around the globe, operating in many countries and communities for salutary change. As these organizations work for an impact on the world, there are many that focus on distinctive problems and specific causes.

    Key Club, for example, is a prominent institution that has 100 clubs in over 38 countries globally. They are a very inclusive and caring program that allows students who are enrolled in high schools to develop leadership skills through serving members in their own community. It enables students to construct their own ideas for service projects that they believe are necessary to introduce to the public.

    As this program flourishes and continues to have an impact in many areas around the world, it also has had a significant effect on the Roaring Fork Valley. Key Club is active at Glenwood Springs High School (GSHS) and has numerous students involved, bringing change to our community.

    Many of these students, such as Senior Maddy Harding, have been involved in the community through Key Club all four years of high school. Her participation in Key Club has helped her prosper as a leader and given her a broader view of not just the valley itself, but the world as well. Harding has also had the opportunity to collaborate with her peers and work on annual projects.

    One of the major projects that they commit to every year is Trick or Treat for UNICEF, which is an organization that assists mothers and children in third world countries.

    “For the past few years, it went towards neonatal tetanus which is now pretty much eliminated in those countries through Key Club funding and other funding through UNICEF,” said Harding.

    Neonatal tetanus is a painful and fatal disease that affects newborns by which their bodies stiffen through severe muscle contractions. Spasms also occur and death may be present in most cases. For the past few years, Key Club had been collecting donations to prevent the disease from hurting many more. But, as Harding had commented before, this illness has been eliminated in various third world countries, meaning that this year they focused on a separate problem.

    “This year it went to hurricane relief, which is super necessary because there’s a lot of damage,” said Harding.

    On the night of Halloween, Key Club members dispersed through multiple areas around Glenwood Springs and went knocking from house to house asking for small donations for recent natural disasters. The donations collected were bestowed for the aid and assistance of those that experienced such alarming events.

    But as the month of October came to an end, Key Club members began to arrange their next major service project for the month of November.

    Senior Tess Lang Burns has participated in Key Club for the past three years of her high school experience. Her experience to has taught her many life lessons that have made her open minded and compassionate towards others.

    Another meaningful project that Key Club helps with annually is the extended table for the homeless. The small dinner feast consists of many food options from the main course meal to the flavorful desserts.

    According to Lang Burns, “…the extended table which is with the Methodist Church in downtown Glenwood and you …make food for homeless people.”

    The dinner is planned out at the Methodist Church in downtown and is a small gathering to celebrate an early Thanksgiving dinner with the homeless. As this takes place yearly, Key Club also selects a certain theme for their food options every year. This year’s main plate was pasta with a side of salad and other small portions of food such as chips and cookies.

    Lang Burns also said, “They [Methodist Church Staff] put on dinner every night at five o’clock for the homeless, and we do it every November right before Thanksgiving.”

    As Key Club helps with this banquet and interacts with these members of the community annually, the staff from the church organizes this event daily. These dinners are held in the basement of the church where there are rows of tables and a kitchen that cooks the meals and serves the homeless simultaneously.

    The extended table project is a vital task that Key Club works on due to giving back to the community and having the opportunity to interact with community members they normally wouldn’t be communicating with.

    As this project is significant in the month of November, another piece of work comes to be essential in the month of February. Senior Erica Diemoz has been involved with Key Club for the past four years of high school. Serving the community  has helped her gain many beneficial skills, such as treating people equally, compromising with her peers in decision making, and voicing an opinion.

    All of these skills come to shape Diemoz for the final major project taking place in February which is the Valentine’s day party for the elderly. Key Club organizes a small celebration for those of greater knowledge and wisdom.

    “In February there’s always the Valentine’s Day party at Sunnyside Retirement Home,” said Diemoz.

    At the Valentine’s Day party at Sunnyside Retirement Home the elderly play games, do activities, and have a joyful time. They enjoy this due to many not having relatives to visit them frequently and often spending their days alone.

    “I’ve always heard that the senior citizens there really appreciate us coming in and kind of bridging that divide between youth and the elderly,” said Diemoz.

    Key Club has received great feedback on committing to this event for the elderly to enjoy. Diemoz refers to the youth and elderly bonding through this activity and breaking the frequent barrier between these two groups.

    As Key Club continues to incorporate themselves into our community, their assistance and effort has come to shape many parts of Glenwood Springs and will annually be a significant part of bringing change and positivity to the community.

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