Student volunteers know the value of giving back early
At 17, Towers High School senior Brandon Brown has already done enough community service to put most adults to shame. And so has Alyse Haliburton, a Bethune Middle School seventh-grader.
The two South DeKalb students are part of a new breed of young people who are giving back to their community because they have been brought up to believe it's the right thing to do.
Brandon and Alyse were recognized recently by the DeKalb section of the National Council of Negro Women with its 2001 Pearl Henry Awards for Community Service.
The award honors the late Pearl Henry, a DeKalb Section charter member, who spent much of her life volunteering in the community.
Since his first year in high school, Brandon has put into practice his mother's advice to be a giver and not just a taker.
In the last four years, Brandon estimates he has put in dozens of hours planting flowers and painting fences with Hands On Atlanta; ringing bells for the Salvation Army red kettle; answering telephones for the Jerry Lewis Telethon; playing his baritone and trombone with his school band buddies for Christmas shoppers; and working at his church, Trinity Presbyterian.
Brandon believes he gets as much as he gives.
"I feel good when I am helping someone out," he said.
Brandon's mother, Nancy Brown, said community service helps keep her son out of trouble and help him become a better person.
"I tell him good things will come out of everything he does," said Brown, a single mother.
Alyse's volunteer efforts started with helping her grandmothers who both had cancer. One grandmother was stricken almost four years ago,and the other last year. Alyse ran errands for them, gave then hugs, and tried to make their lives less stressful during their ordeal.
The response to the good she did, prompted her to volunteer at Beulah Baptist, where she attends church with her parents, Andrew and Glenda Haliburton.
As a member of the church's Bosom Buddies and Candy Stripers Ministries, Alyse makes pillows for recovering breast cancer patients, and visits nursing homes and patrols the children's area at church. When the children get hurt, she bandages their bruises.
At her school, Alyse is a member of the safety patrol and the book-shelf sheriff, a group that helps to restock library shelves.
Alyse, who is 12 years old, said her NCNW award is affirmation that good deeds pay.
"It just shows that I'm about business and that I don't play around when it comes to helping out others," she said.