Central senior receives Youth Volunteer of the Year award
United Way honoree got a 'push' to serve
There are exceptions, but most teens aren't excited about community service. Not initially, anyway. And on a Saturday? Puh-lease. They argue it's the one day they should be allowed to sleep in, hang out with friends, and you know, take a break.
Three years ago, Chris Hsieh would have argued something similar, but that was before his mother dropped him off at the Salvation Army of Waukesha County. Parental authority trumped teenage choice and so the pouty volunteer wandered reluctantly into the Community Meals Program. In the weeks that followed, Hsieh wrapped silverware, put out desserts and served food to Waukesha County's needy.
What happened next is the magical stuff that changes lives forever.
"I don't know what happened, but all the sudden something just snapped. I found myself enjoying the company of the other volunteers. I started talking to the people who use the service. I started trying the food, and I got right into it," Hsieh said. Service that began with a mother's push quickly turned into Hsieh's passion, and earlier this week, the United Way in Waukesha County recognized his community service with their Inspire by Example Youth Volunteer of the Year Award.
"It's really a way of life for him, " said Marcy Sturtzman, the Salvation Army Volunteer Coordinator who nominated Hsieh for the award. "If you do the math, he's served almost 20,000 meals in the three years he's been here. It's just something in his heart. I think it's very inspiring."
The 17-year-old Brookfield Central senior still volunteers at the Salvation Army for about two hours most Saturdays. He connects well with the clientele and is thoughtful enough to know who will pass on the soup or ask for more green beans. Hsieh chuckles while recalling the early days when he'd spill water. Even he can see how he's matured.
Sitting in Hsieh's Brookfield home, it's clear he doesn't live in a bubble oblivious to life's harsh realities. What he says about volunteering would make any mother beam with pride.
"I was a teenager before, kind of full of myself. I guess I was probably a little selfish. Now that I see it, I got to say it's opened my eyes. I've really learned to give back to the community. I can't just keep on taking things," Hsieh said.
Through this experience, Hsieh learned that he genuinely enjoys helping others and in the future hopes to do so as a surgeon.
To recommend a person be featured in Someone You Should Know, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (262) 446-6643.
JUST THE FACTS
NAME: Chris Hsieh
NOTED FOR: volunteerism
PEARLS OF WISDOM: "I've really learned to give back to the community. I can't just keep on taking things."
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