When Pitman High School senior Adourin Malco joined the school’s Key Club four years ago, she knew that she was going to make an impact in her own community by helping others. What she didn’t expect, however, was that the club would help her too by aiding her decision as to what she is going to do after she graduates high school.
“I have always struggled with choosing my future major for college, and it was not until recently that I decided to study public health. I never considered Key Club to be a main contributor to my decision, but when deciding what I wanted to one day do as a career, the most important thing to me was that it would help people who might not be able to help themselves,” said Malco. “I wholeheartedly believe that if I had not joined Key Club and had been a member for the last four years, finding a major that focuses primarily on helping others would not have been as important to me as it is today.”
As the club’s president, Malco said she joined her freshman year to build on years of volunteering she accumulated since the fourth grade. Through her involvement in Key Club, Malco has visited Elness Convalescent Hospital to play Bingo, do crafts, entertain and converse with the elderly residents. She and other members also made their own shoe boxes and filled them with items for less-fortunate children for Operation Christmas Shoe Box Program, after they found out about the volunteering effort from her math teacher Renate Staley.
“I think that everyone should be involved in service projects throughout their community and Key Club gives them a way to do that. We give them a safe and fun way to get out into their town and make a difference. It introduces students that have a shared love for their town and for volunteering,” said Malco. “I think the main goal of Key Club is to part of something bigger than ourselves. Going out into our community and meeting people who need/want our help reminds all of us that no act of service is too small or insignificant.”
As the club’s advisor, English teacher Jessica Insell said that the Key Club at Pitman High School was chartered in 2003 and currently has 120 members.
“This is my third year as their advisor and I couldn’t be prouder of all the work they have done for their community,” said Insell. “They give without the thought of receiving anything in return. They are young and they are learning valuable life lessons. They are learning how to be involved with their school and community.”
Insell said that the club has a busy agenda for the next few months as members have plans to organize Pitman High School’s first annual dodge ball tournament this spring to raise funds for future community service projects and events, host a clothes drive for those less fortunate, help pack remaining books into boxes during the Friends of the Turlock Public Library book sale and work with Kiwanis Club of Turlock to help in any events that they can.
“Every student should have the opportunity to make a difference in their community,” said Insell. “This is a safe environment for students to meet likeminded individuals and share their passion for giving to others. It also gives the students a positive enlightening experience.”
Pitman High School’s Key Club meets at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of every month in the school library. Insell said that any Pitman student who would like to join can contact a club officer or visit her in room B122. Interested students can also send an email to JInsell@turlock.k12.ca.us.
Over on the other side of town, Turlock High School has had its own Key Club since 1983. The club currently has 46 members. Club advisor and science teacher Kay Simmons said the goals of the club include promoting community service, giving back to the community, encouraging students to take on leadership roles and working closely with the Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock to serve the community.
“The mission of Key Club International is to have a student-led organization that provides its members with opportunities for community service, develop leadership and build character. Students at Turlock High Key Club have logged many, many community service hours as they have served others,” said Simmons. “Students have had the opportunity to serve meals to the homeless, help provide toys to needy children, provide needed supplies to pets, bring some cheer to our senior citizens and take part in meeting and socializing with their peers.
“It is a very positive experience for them and me. The students really run the club and seek opportunities to support the community around them,” continued Simmons.
Simmons said that Key Club members recently worked with Turlock Together to process and package toys for underprivileged children, rang bells for the Salvation Army during the holiday season to raise funds for local services and hosted a pet food and supplies drive in conjunction with the Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock and Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital to help elderly and homeless people care for their pets. Members also plan to make valentine cards for local senior centers and help out during the Friends of the Turlock Public Library book sale.
“Key Club at Turlock High strives to uphold the duties of Kiwanis International by providing service to our community and enhancing member’s ability to become active leaders that can create a change for the betterment of citizens throughout the globe,” said member Eve Stark. “It is crucial for Turlock High to have a club like Key Club on campus because it teaches students to immerse their time not only in academia and sports, but in their community as well. Participating in service projects allows the teenage community to become altruistic citizens.”
The Key Club at Turlock High School meets at lunch on the second and fourth Thursday of every month in room L10. Any Turlock High student who is interested in joining can attend any meeting.