Local teen honored for 4H volunteer work
Erin Thompson’s volunteer efforts have garnered a state-level award and a resolution by the Orange County commissioners recognizing her donated time.
Thompson was presented with the 4H Youth Volunteer Award for the state’s North Central district for her work in the community.
“Actually it was a surprise,” Thompson said of her award. “It was a nice surprise.”
While attending a 4H state leadership conference in November, Thompson was told that she had been nominated for the Youth Volunteer Award just hours before it was awarded.
Prior to getting her award, Thompson admitted that she would be happy if she won but if she didn’t “it’s not a big thing.”
“It’s not if you win or lose,” she said. “It’s about what you did.”
Thompson’s family had been notified prior and they were on hand for the awards ceremony. Thompson was also in the dark on her recognition by the county commissioners until the last minute.
Presented earlier this month, Thompson received a resolution from the county commissioners recognizing her work as a volunteer.
“Volunteering makes me happy, to see how other people feel when you do something for them,” she said. “It makes me feel good that I was able to help someone in this capacity or that.”
Originally from Richmond, Va., the Cedar Ridge High School sophomore is no stranger to giving back. She was given an example to emulate early on when she would accompany her mother, Laurie Thompson, who volunteered her time to help others including starting a Girl Scout Troop at their old church.
From collecting jars of peanut butter and canned goods for Richmond-area food banks through their church to gathering shoes for children in Africa, Thompson saw firsthand what it meant to give back.
“I’m happy. I’m very proud of Erin,” her mother said. “She is very unselfish, very caring and steps up for the underdog. She’s so sweet and helps everybody. I do see her career being something where she can definitely give back to society.”
Thompson said her first real experience volunteering came from a shoe drive at her old church, where she saw firsthand the difference her service made in the lives of others.
“I could tell they were in need. People were in line at 5 a.m. but we didn’t get there until about 6 a.m.,” she said. “You could really tell how appreciative the people were, and how grateful I am for what I have and I don’t take anything for granted.”
With her current church, Mt. Zion AME in Hillsborough, Thompson said that she “just does little things” like taking photographs for the church calendar and donating her time at Carillon Assisted Living, also in Hillsborough.
Having joined 4H last year as a member-at-large, Thompson has participated in a service project where she and other youth cut fabric for shoes for children in Africa.
Most recently, as a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, Thompson volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House where she helped make blankets and fulfill wish list items. Also volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House with her church, she helped cook breakfast while parents were getting much needed items and kept the children entertained.
“That was really fun,” she said. “I’d like to go back there and do that again.”
Wanting to go into a profession that allows her to further help people, Thompson is looking at psychology or a sports-related career.
Also a recipient of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Light of Hope Award, Thompson clearly explained why volunteering is important.
“It gives you a feeling of accomplishment,” she said. “It will change your outlook on life, how you see other people and (teach you) not to judge because you don’t know what goes on with other people. Plus, if you try it you might like it.”