The role of community service in WHS culture

Sophomore Lilli Tobe raised money for school supplies in Peru as community service. Many students in WHS volunteer throughout the year through mission trips or organizations.

Credit: Courtesy of Lilli Tobe

Sophomore Lilli Tobe raised money for school supplies in Peru as community service. Many students in WHS volunteer throughout the year through mission trips or organizations. "We gave [schools in Peru] supplies and we spent nights over in some of the towns [in Peru], so we got to know the people," Tobe said.

Lindsey Brown and Allie Nunn

Giving back to the community is a core part of Wayland’s culture. Often, Wayland students spend their summers volunteering with different organizations. WHS encourages its students to get involved in their communities. In fact, in order to gain privileges as an upperclassman, students need to complete 30 hours of community service.

There are many community service opportunities that Wayland students can take advantage of, helping support the community. In some instances, students are offered a chance to help not only their community but another country in need. Junior Anna Lin has been on multiple mission trips to other countries.

“In the past, I’ve been on service trips to Guatemala, and this past summer, I went on a service trip to Thailand, so I got community service hours from both of those,” Lin said.

The mission trip to Guatemala is a trip that few students from WHS experience. The trip is organized by Trinitarian Congregational Church in Wayland. On the trip, students have the opportunity to help build houses, interact with school kids and hold sports clinics for children in towns like San Lucas Toliman.

“I like Guatemala because it’s a different experience compared to our daily lives here in Wayland,” Lin said. “The community of Guatemala is greatly helped by the work that we do. We go and spend time with the kids at school and play soccer with them. [Also], through the building of houses for families in need.”

Even WHS alumni, such as Peter and Sam Wolff, Ian and Megan Armstrong, Kieran Ireland, Eden Vanslette, were able to experience the trip.

“I feel as though going to Guatemala, and the fact that community service hours are required in high school, is super influential because it requires students to think of the world outside of their own and the people outside of the Wayland bubble,” WHS graduate Eden Vanslette said.

Generally, students are able to experience a new lifestyle and new surroundings when completing community service, especially when the job requires you to travel out of the country. Often, students perceive a unique view of the world, which is impacted simply by helping out around the world.

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Fantoni
Fantoni and her peers are excited to volunteer. Many Wayland students participate in a community service camp called Catholic Heart Work Camp during their summers. “One year, I worked at a school for children with disabilities and I helped clean the school,” Fantoni said. “Then another year, I worked at a school and painted stairs.”

“The trip opened up my eyes to the reality of a lot of the world that isn’t my own,” Vanslette said. “It makes me more thankful for what I have and drives me to want to help those around me, and step out of my comfort zone where I can experience life in other places.”

Similar to the Guatemala mission trip, sophomore Lilli Tobe went on a mission trip to Peru where she and seven other students got to experience first hand the different cultures in Peru.

“When you actually see the poverty that people are in and how people don’t have equal chances to get an education, it’s really different,” Tobe said. “It made me a lot more grateful for the things I have and the education I’m able to get.”

Daniel Fernandez, a teacher at WMS, organizes the Peru trip. With the organization, Loose Change, Tobe and other volunteers worked to raise money to help fund education in Peru.

“We used [the money we raised] to buy school supplies and other equipment that kids in schools needed in Peru,” Tobe said. “Then, we bought them the supplies and then we delivered the supplies by hiking through the mountains.”

Tobe is no stranger to volunteering. In the past, she’s helped at local soup kitchens, food drives and clothing drives, all in addition to her Peru trip.

“I think it’s easier if you have one trip and you get all your [WHS-mandated volunteer] hours done, but I think it’s just as important to also volunteer around here,” Tobe said.

Community service is something that all Wayland students encounter. The service opportunities are endless, almost guaranteeing that each student will have a different experience. No matter who they help, students come away from volunteering to learn something new.

“Students can [learn to] be more grateful for what they have and [volunteering] can also open their eyes and let them realize there are other people that need help and that they can make a difference if they put the time in,” Tobe said.

Sophomore Sophia Fantoni agrees with the eye-opening nature of community service. Fantoni was a recipient of the Unsung Heroes Award in 2019. The award recognizes people in the Wayland community who have completed at least 50 hours of community service.

“[Community service] really influenced who I am today,” Fantoni said. “It opened up a new world [for me], and it’s really opened my eyes. I realized that my view of the world [is small]. Not everything is as perfect as it seems, and even the littlest thing for you impacts someone’s life so much.”

When she received the Unsung Heroes Award, Fantoni gave a speech where she recapped the hours of community service she completed during the year. She was surrounded by peers who shared her passion for community service.

“[At the awards ceremony], it was inspiring to see how many people do a lot for our community and how they really impact others [by volunteering],” Fantoni said.

In addition to volunteering with the Boston Sock Exchange, where Fantoni helps give out clothes and food to homeless people in Boston, she goes to Catholic Heart Work Camp(CHWC), a five day long camp in the summer where she volunteers all day long.

“One year [at CHWC], I worked at a school for children with disabilities and I helped clean the school,” Fantoni said. “Then another year, I worked at a school and painted stairs.”

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Fantoni
Fantoni paints the stairs at a school during her time at CHWC. ““I realized that my view of the world [is small], Fantoni said. “Not everything is as perfect as it seems and even the littlest thing for you impacts someone’s life so much.”

Once involved in community service, many students develop a passion for volunteering. Although Fantoni has completed her 30 required hours, she plans to continue to volunteer.

“I’ve found an organization [called] Family Promise which is basically a shelter for families that are homeless and they provide education, shelter and food,” Fantoni said. “I [am] planning on tutoring the children of those families.”

Many students see the impact that volunteering has on them and the people they are assisting. Whether they’re helping or being helped, students find a community while completing their service hours that help to improve their mood.

“For me, community service is kind of something I like to do,” Tobe said. “It makes me happy because I feel like I’m helping others. Plus, you can also know that you’re going to make a difference in the world.”