The RVDT participates in community outreach events

The RVDT is teaching children at the Boys and Girls Club a few dance moves. Photo courtesy of the RVDT website.

The RVDT is teaching children at the Boys and Girls Club a few dance moves. Photo courtesy of the RVDT website.

Mariam Hanna, Lifestyles & Entertainment Editor

It is a hot summer day, and senior and Rochester Varsity Dance Team (RVDT) captain Kaitlyn Arnold, is volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club alongside the rest of the team. As she helps children of all ages learn to dance, Arnold is learning a few new things herself.

This is not the only time her dance team has partaken in a community outreach event. Last summer, they volunteered  at Grace Centers of Hope and Mentorship & Fitness Program as well, and according to Coach Allie Mercer, her dancers are not stopping here.

“We continue to support the community by collecting new books and toys during our Jazzy Jingle Kid’s Clinic to donate to the organization Peter’s Pals, who the donates all these items to children spending the Holiday season in the hospital,” Coach Mercer said. “The team worked with [the Boys and Girls Club] in August, with hopes to continue this great tradition annually.”

To the RVDT, community outreach is important.

“Engaging in community services provides students with the opportunity to become active members of their community,” Coach Mercer said. “[It] has a lasting, positive impact on society. Community outreach enables students to acquire life skills and knowledge, as well as provide service to those who need it most.”

One of the organizations the RVDT partnered with last summer was the Boys and Girls Club. This organization provides less fortunate children with a center they can have fun and be kids in. They offer different classes, and the dance team decided to lead a dance clinic for whoever wanted to join.

“It was really cute because there were four of us dance team girls there, and we had all brought our poms with us,” Arnold said. “A bunch of little girls were running around and trying to steal our poms… They thought they were so cute, and they were so cute.”

For some children, participating in a dance class is not something they can easily do for various reasons. Because of this, Arnold saw the significance in teaching one.

“I think it’s important to give these kids a chance to grow, learn and experience different activities that they might not get to experience otherwise outside of the organization,” Arnold said. “I think this was some of the girls’ first experience with dance class. It was nice to see… them for the first time trying stuff.”

Although Boys and Girls Club has two location near RHS, one in Troy and one in Auburn Hills, many  students do not know much about it. Before volunteering at Auburn Hills’ location, Arnold says she was one of these people.

“I knew it offered daycare services for younger children who wouldn’t necessarily get it otherwise, but I didn’t really know that much,” Arnold said. “It was actually very intriguing to go see the facility [such as] all the different activities they have to offer for the kids and all the wide range of ages of kids that were there.”

Since Rochester has many resources and events for its residents and is so close to these areas, many people fail to realize that proximity does not mean much in this regard.

“Auburn Hills is so close to the RCS Community, and yet they don’t have nearly as many resources as our district does,” Coach Mercer said. “A lot of these kids may want to pursue dance but may not have the funds or resources to achieve this dream. It is important to remember that even people right down the street may not be as lucky as you, which is a great lesson to learn and give back because of.”

Michael A. Brown has been working with the Boys and Girls Club for 41 years, and he currently holds a position as the area club director.

“[I] was a member of the Boys Club growing up,” Brown said. “In addition, I met my wife of 31 years working at the Boys and Girls Club.”

Brown believes the Boys and Girls Club shapes young people’s lives and makes them better adults in the future.

“We are a youth development organization providing a positive environment that enables its members to become responsible, self-reliant, caring adults,” Brown said. “[I have] been able to help thousands of young people become successful and lead productive lives.”

As Arnold co-taught the dance class, she was able to witness how something that may seem silly to a lot of individuals is greatly appreciated to others, and she learned a lot from this.

“I think it was really a good experience for me to get to see that others are less fortunate than me and how something as simple as a dance class can bring the so much joy,” Arnold said. “Even if it’s only an hour or two, it could make a difference in their lives.”

RVDT also did community outreach with Grace Centers of Hope. It is a non-profit, Christian organization whose mission is to help change the lives of individuals who have gone through something traumatic in their lives.

“[Here, people] regroup and figure out how to get their lives back on track,” junior and RVDT member Emily Conley said. “[They are] willing to help anyone turn their life around no matter how old they are.”

Similar to Arnold’s experience at the Boys and Girls Club, Conley believes that the Grace Centers of Hope allowed her to change people’s lives and affected her tremendously.

“Listening to residents and people in charge about what they do and their life stories, I was really inspired, and it inspired me to help in the future,” Conley said. “When our job was finished, I felt like I [had] really made an impact on the residents… and they made an impact on me.”

Going into the holiday season, many people all around America are reflecting on what they are grateful for, but through events like this one, Conley thought about this much sooner.

“RVDT feels it is important to get involved with our community,” Conley said. “We are so grateful and thankful for everything have and the opportunities we are given. We want to help others who are not as fortunate.”

For Arnold, volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club is not something she did because she had to. She genuinely enjoyed her time with the children and hopes to go back one day.

“It was just a great experience,” Arnold said. “I really hope we can go back and do it another time.”