Rebecca Bukvich was more than a little surprised when she arrived to receive an award for her volunteer work.
The 16-year-old Brookfield East junior was named co-winner of the 2012 Youth Volunteer Award during the United Way in Waukesha County's Inspire by Example Award Ceremony, held April 17 at at the Country Springs Hotel, Water Park and Convention Center in Pewaukee.
"Actually, I did not know it was that big," Bukvich said. "It's really an honor."
It was an honor well deserved for someone who has devoted more than 200 hours of service annually over four years to the Association for the Rights of Citizens with handicaps. In particular, she has worked with the ARCh Youth Teams, a group that has written and performed a show centered on the message that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They perform at schools primarily in Mukwonago and Waukesha.
In addition to the performance entitled "Differences: Gotta Have 'em!," the team also plans and participates in events called Teen Times, semimonthly socials where teens with and without disabilities interact and form genuine friendships.
The Inspire by Example program introduced Bukvich as Becca, noting that she "personally performed for more than 7,000 students in grades K-8, usually in leading roles which she has earned through mature and professional rehearsal ethic." The program further said, "Becca amazes everyone at the organization and is an inspiring model for her peers."
An inspiration paid forward
After accepting the award, Bukvich gave credit to her older sister, Amy, who inspired her to connect with ARCh. Involvement also includes camp experience.
"At first, I wasn't sure, because I had not done anything like that before," Bukvich said. "But I found it to be fun and rewarding. You go to socials and have genuine fun because no one is judged. I have made a lot of good friendships."
She said her favorite part of volunteering is connecting with middle school and elementary students because, she said, volunteers can make an early impression and because those schools are where bullying can be stopped before it becomes a habit.
While she has thought about a career in special education, Bukvich said she is keeping her options open. For now, she said, volunteering is a full reward.
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