One by one women from many walks of life line up to receive a warm breakfast served with an even warmer smile at Wellspring Women's Center in Oak Park. "Do you want some eggs?" 14-year-old Isabella Powers asks. "How are you today?" she inquires with a sweet youthful eagerness that charms the guests.
Powers began volunteering here when she was 9. When she sees a problem she moves into action. She is starting a campaign at school to collect used forks, spoons and mugs for the center, which is running short. For her 10th birthday she asked for school supplies for the children at Wellspring. Seeing people's appreciation is her present, she says. "We're here to help others. You can't make this world a better place by just focusing on yourself. It's the ripple effect. You're making and impact, then other people do the same."
Isabella was in fourth grade when she first started volunteering at Wellspring in the kid's corner, where she would read to and play with children who would come with their mothers. Her father, Patrick Powers, has been volunteering for Wellspring for 20 years. He would attend meetings and Isabella would tag along with him and do homework during his meetings.
"She's gotten more mature," Powers said about his daughter. "She knows she can make a difference." Through bake sales and lemonade stands Isabella and her friends raised money for victims of the Haiti earthquake, Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Japan. For valentines day one year she gave out flourescent lightbulbs to her classmates to help save the environment.
"It doesn't have to be grandiose," Isabella said about her volunteering. "You can do something small. Little things count."
For Isabella all of these little things are adding up. For her efforts she will be the 2013 recipient of the Violet Richardson Award for Soroptomist International of Greater Sacramento. The award will be presented to her during a luncheon in March.
Cheerful and bright Isabella exudes confidence and openness to others. Volunteering has taught her well. She's seen people who come from less fortunate backgrounds than herself and she's become more grateful for what she has. "Not everybody's perfect," she says. "I feel more fortunate. I am more appreciative of my family than I would be."
A freshman at St. Francis High School she studies hard in advanced placement classes, participates in service and leadership activities and plays sports. She tries to get her classmates interested in volunteering as well. Most are too hesitant to join her.
Annie Hassid, the volunteer coordinator at Wellspring Women's Center loves to see young people volunteer. "She's a real sweet girl, super hard working," Hassid said. "She brings an extra spark in the volunteer program."
Do you know an extra special volunteer who should be profiled in the I Care column? Please send your suggestions to Autumn Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org.