Giving back as a way of life
Einstein once said, "only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile," and Larue Reese seems to agree.
He recently earned a gold President’s Volunteer Service Award for committing over 4,000 hours to the National Ability Center. Reese accumulated the time during a sabbatical from the Pennsylvania College of Technology, a Penn State affiliate, where he teaches social sciences.
Part of Reese’s decision to volunteer during time away from work was to live by example for his students, who he asks to complete community service hours as part of their course work.
"Teachers tell students they need to volunteer it’s said more clearly when they do it," he explained.
But a larger component is that he has been volunteering since he was a young adult and giving back is part of his lifestyle.
"I have a belief that communities kind of thrive or stagnate based on an individual’s willingness to contribute to that community," Reese said.
His work for the NAC included fixing and maintaining adaptive equipment, building benches and cleaning stables. Occasionally the work allowed Reese to combine his love for service with other activities he enjoys such as river rafting. Last week Reese was in town volunteering on an NAC float trip down the Snake River.
Working with the kids is a highlight of his volunteer service with them and he "enjoys just being able to watch them become more independent."
One NAC participant he remembers is a child that the NAC did not have adaptive ski equipment for, and he stayed after hours to customize something. Reese said it was very rewarding to watch the student be able to stand up and have more control while riding the slopes.
Adventure Learning Manager Julie Davis said Reese’s giving nature is infectious and extends beyond helping NAC patrons.
"The other morning he came in before anyone else was here and baked us a chocolate cake," she said.
From cooking up surprises for the staff to improvising with adaptive equipment, Rees always looks for ways to help out.
"Larue and I have a running joke that he doesn’t idle well," Davis said. She added that having his help at the center has been, "awesome."
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