By Gigi Ekstrom
Lakehill has a long tradition of community service with students who give generously of their time and talents to make an impact on their communities. Three Upper School students, juniors Anders Ekstrom and Lindsey Evans, and senior Kate Langley were recently selected as honorees in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program for their outstanding volunteer efforts.
Since the first grade, Ekstrom has been involved in monthly Shoreline Spruce-ups through For the Love of the Lake (FTLOTL), both with Lakehill and, more recently, with Dallas United Crew. He believes that small efforts over a sustained period of time can have a huge impact.
“While most people would agree that picking up trash is not a glamorous activity, it is definitely one that makes a big difference,” he said. “After 11 years, I know that my efforts have paid off.” Ekstrom believes that it is important to clean up the lake because it is such a central part of our community.
“Since I spend so much time at the lake, and I know how important it is to others, I want to stay involved in the ongoing clean-up efforts to make the lake a better place for everyone to enjoy.” Ekstrom enjoys seeing the difference in the shoreline after a clean-up. “The most important lesson I learned from my volunteer experience is that sustained effort over time really does make a difference.”
Evans came to volunteering at a young age as a family activity, packing food boxes before Thanksgiving or visiting retirement homes. Her favorite service pro-ject, however, is the Annual Easter Egg Hunt at the The Rise School of Dallas, a nonprofit preschool for children with Down Syndrome. “I knew then that I loved helping children,” she explains. Serious in her efforts to improve the lives of children, Evans is also involved in THANKS (Teens Helping Abused and Neglected Kids) at Community Partners of Dallas, an organization that aims to ensure safety, restore dignity, and inspire hope for the abused and neglected children served by Dallas County Child Protective Services. She is also active with the Heroes for Children teen board, providing support to children battling cancer and their families. “My motivation is purely the joy that service brings me,” she said. “It is really very simple — it just makes you feel good to serve others.”
Langley has spent the past three summers volunteering at Theatre Three in a workshop for teens interested in acting. She attended rehearsals, helped construct props, assisted the stage manager in clerical tasks, and even ran the lights and projections.
“Through this activity, I not only learned the inner workings of a theater, but I was able to help young actors reach their goals and develop a passion for theater,” she said. “I would tell other young people to pursue what you are passionate about because there will always be a way to serve others and volunteer.”
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents America’s largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer service. The awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial, Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honor outstanding community service by students in grades five through 12 at the local, state and national level.
“By shining a spotlight on their service, we hope that more young people will be inspired to make a difference to the people around them,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld.
Lakehill Headmaster Roger L. Perry praised the students for their volunteer service. “They set a wonderful example of philanthropy and dedication that we hope others will follow. These Honorees practice a lesson we hope all young people, as well as adults, will emulate — that volunteering within the community is an essential part of life.”