June 1, 2018
In this series, What’s Your Why, United Way is calling on its supporters to share what volunteering means for them and why they feel passionately about a cause in our community. This month features Kinsey Larson, a senior at Mooresville High School.
Kinsey Larson is truly a game changer for his Mooresville community. The Mooresville High School senior has devoted hundreds of hours to serving his community, especially veterans and youth. “Volunteering is important to me because giving back to those who have provided for me is simply the right thing to do. In addition, teaching the next generation to be community leaders is an opportunity I cannot pass up,” he says.
When Kinsey sees a problem, he springs into action to help find a solution — and brings an ample army of advocates, volunteers and supporters along with him. Most recently, he launched an anti-bullying campaign at Paul Hadley Middle School. We chatted with Kinsey to learn more about his volunteer work and what drives him to give back at such a young age.
How did you first get introduced to United Way?
I first found United Way by attending a town meeting in Mooresville. My parents thought it would be a great way to be involved with the community. I was able to meet some representatives of United Way and got involved because it provided a unique way to give back to my community, especially Mooresville High School and Paul Hadley Middle School.
How have you volunteered through United Way?
My volunteering centered around forming the United Way Youth Council at Paul Hadley Middle School in order to make a positive impact on the community I grew up in. I partnered with United Way and Crystal Davis, a teacher at Paul Hadley, to form a group of nearly 30 middle school students who actively identified a problem within their school and worked to diminish it. This year, the students chose to reduce the effects of bullying between students. Throughout the year, I helped lead multiple meetings with Mrs. Davis and worked with the kids to create anti-bullying posters, announcements, social media and cleanups.
After I helped start the council, I realized that I could help lead this small group of students to become leaders within their school and their community. Teaching the next generation to be community leaders is an opportunity I cannot pass up.
Why do you volunteer?
I volunteer because I want to give back to my community. Before I started to volunteer for United Way and the Youth Council, a majority of my service was for local veteran organizations. In the case of veterans, I believe there is no amount of community service that can repay those who have served our country through military service.
Why should youth volunteer and get involved with the community?
Youth should volunteer and give back to their community because it teaches valuable life skills and forms bonds between every member in a community. As a leader for the Youth Council, I learned time management, organizational skills, presentation skills, interpersonal skills and much more. While doing cleanups around a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, I formed friendships with men and women who are directly affected by my actions. Many people volunteer because it looks good on a resume or they need to for a club. Starting out, I did the same. However, as I began to see the effects of volunteering on those who are aided and by teaming up with other volunteers, I realized that the impact I make at a young age and the skills I learn will benefit my community and myself more than a few words on a resume ever could. My advice would be to present yourself through action — not by words.
Why do you choose to volunteer through United Way?
I enjoy volunteering with United Way because I can the see passion every member has in everything they do. Many volunteer and do beneficial things for the community, but those who are truly passionate about their work will make the most impact. I am passionate about volunteering and United Way provides a whole organization of similar philanthropists.
I believe in United Way’s mission because it pursues a lasting impact, not just a one time benefit. The work I have done will stick with the Youth Council members and help to teach them leadership and life skills. Other achievements of United Way have helped schools, families and even whole communities with a variety of lasting solutions to everyday struggles.
How do you plan on expanding your volunteerism once you graduate high school?
After high school I intend to continue my volunteerism during college. This may include organizing a group of friends to cleanup around veteran organizations and holding food drives. If the Youth Council needs guidance while I am away, I would be glad to come back and help in any way possible.
With more youth like Kinsey making positive change in our community, we can make Central Indiana a place where everyone is able to thrive. By teaching youth how to become community leaders, Kinsey is creating a ripple effect that will last for decades to come. If you know a youth who has aspirations of becoming more involved in the community and wants to become a strong leader, nominate them for Leadership United, United Way’s youth leadership development program.