By Davie Yang
In a community there are always notable people who are willing to assist others when asked to. But then there are those people who take it to another level by spending hours and hours of their lives helping those in need, obviously loving to do those virtuous deeds. These overachieving people can become seen as heroes by not only the people they assist, but by the whole community. In this case, four Skyline students have risen to the occasion and have received the honorary title of “Community of Caring Heroes” from the Community of Caring co-directors Dané du Randt and Kirsten Magleby. These “heroes” are Amanda Rouse, Jake Cushing, Ankita Ray, and Sam Peterson.
“I was motivated by the hope that I could change someone’s life for the better, even if it was as small as reminding them that someone cares about their well-being,” shares Amanda Rouse. Her willingness to help others is evident through services like working at a local road home and helping with the iMatter March.
However, Rouse’s drive to be of assistance to others was not strictly limited to the Utah community or even in this country. For three weeks in West Bengal, India, she taught village children and worked with a women’s rights group with another group called YMAD (Youth Making a Difference). Before even venturing out to India though, she had to take part in a nine-month leadership training class.
In addition to all that, Rouse has helped out in Puerto Penasco, Mexico by building and painting houses for people who were homeless. Out of all her wondrous services, she says about her experience in India, “[It] was the most memorable mainly because I have never felt the kind of love the children and villagers had for us, and I will never love anyone the way I love them.”
Jake Cushing is another student who has been bestowed with the “hero” title. “I felt really accomplished and happy! Service just makes your life better. I don’t see myself as a hero at all. I love helping others to feel good and have fun. That’s my main goal,” Cushing relays. During his sophomore year in Community of Caring, he was assigned to a service site called Hartvigsen School, which is a school for children with special needs in the Granite School District. There, he assisted with the Special Olympics. “It’s been amazing to see their success!” he remarks. “After going a couple of times, I loved it and knew that I needed to continue to help make their lives better. They became dependent on me to be there and I never wanted to let them down. I really became close to everyone that I served.”
Currently, Cushing still offers assistance at Hartvigsen when he finds time to do so in his busy schedule while also helping out at Camp Kostopulos, a special needs camp. Gary Slaymaker, the teacher in charge of the Special Olympics at Hartvigsen, admits, “Jake has been a great volunteer for the Special Olympics. [He] did not stand around waiting for others to tell him to get involved. He would go out and start to associate with the various athletes no matter what their skill level was. To me Jake is truly a Community of Caring Hero.”
Another hero – in this case, a heroine – who has risen to the occasion is Ankita Ray. One common path at Skyline that she has taken is doing service in various clubs. For instance, she has been a member of Operation Smile and HOSA for the three years she has been in Skyline. Over those three years, she claimed an officer position in Operation Smile. Even more noteworthy in HOSA, she is currently contributing to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
What truly distinguishes Ray as a heroine above the rest of the student body though is through her “most meaningful service experience,” as Ray describes, where she took part of a humanitarian trip to India. Over there, she worked at an orphanage, providing very meaningful support for the children. “I think my motivation was initially to realize what I was grateful for,” conveys Ray. “But after the experience was over, I realized they had done much more for me than I had for them.”
Sam Peterson is the final member of this selective group. Although he is known by most of the student body for being the Vice President of the student government, Peterson has done a lot of other assistive deeds behind the scenes. These deeds have varied from singing for the elderly, to knitting hats for the Neonatal Department at the Primary Children’s Hospital, to even being a student mentor and coach for schools like Nibley Park Elementary and Churchill Junior High.
Sam’s service at Camp Hobe, however, was his most notable deed. Camp Hobe is an organization that provides a summer camp for kids who have cancer and as well as their siblings. Peterson, along with investing 120 hours for an internship at the camp, did a service project for it and ended up raising about $861 “I wanted to do something for the kids who had given me a new