Giving back makes big impact on boys’ facility
When 14-year-old Maisen arrived at Datema House, an alternative school and group home for teenage boys part of the Missouri Division of Youth Services, he was not excited at first about participating in community service.
“I thought it was going to be terrible,” he shared. “But when we got to Ozarks Food Harvest, it was really fun when I got to find out what we were actually doing — helping feed people.”
Maisen is one of approximately 30 teenage boys who have volunteered at Ozarks Food Harvest during their stay at Datema House. Since February 2015, these boys and their leaders have given over 340 hours of service.
In elementary school, Maisen was a recipient of the Weekend Backpack Program. He views his volunteer time as a way to give back and grow personally. “I looked at it as a way of building my character. I have empathy for others when I’m doing community service.”
For 15-year-old Taylor, volunteering gave him confidence he didn’t have before.
“I used to have really low self-esteem before I came to Datema House,” he said. “Being able to help others, it makes me see that I’m capable of doing things and it makes me feel proud of myself and the efforts that I put in. It helps me boost my self-esteem quite a bit.”
Several of the boys in the program shared similar stories.
“When I first came in here … I didn’t think well of myself,” said 17-year-old Kentrell. “Now I can actually say that I helped people and didn’t take.”
Fifteen-year-old Dalton shared, “Doing community service shows me how my actions affect others in a positive way, rather than a negative … to hear of all you are doing to help out people, it’s really fun. It feels good.”
Many of the boys said they would like to volunteer after graduating from the program at Datema House.
Taylor said, “It’s really cool that we get this opportunity to do this, because it’s really made a difference in my life.”