Identical twins Jake and Dean Criser have participated in many activities throughout high school, including Plant’s newspaper, the Pep O’Plant, are on the Plant Rowing Team, and are members of the elite Gold & Black Honor Society to name a few. Although their list of activities is long, both young men agree that the activity that has been the most meaningful to them has been volunteering at Cornerstone Kids through the Teens in Action program. Cornerstone Kids is an after-school enrichment program for at-risk children ages 5 to 11 whose mission is to help those children with their educational, spiritual and emotional development.
“We’ve been volunteering there since we were freshmen,” says Jake. “It is great to get to know the kids and become friends with them and help them out.” Each week the boys work with other teen volunteers to plan an activity and snack based on that week’s theme. “We’ve grown plants for Earth Day, played games to learn about different cultures and performed skits on how to deal with confrontation,” Jake adds.
“I enjoy helping children and working with them,” says Dean, who also volunteers during the summer at a day camp for kids. “It is great to work with children because you can see the impact you are having and connect with them.”
Jake agrees, “Getting to see the kids gives you a reason to come back. You learn about yourself and how to deal with different people. The kids are glad to see us all there and it makes you look forward to going, makes you appreciate what you do, and makes you more mindful of yourself.”