By KIRBY NEUMANN-REA
July 16, 2005
United Way has honored one of the youngest volunteers in the community as its 2005 Volunteer of the Year.
Emily Bounds, a 2005 graduate of Hood River Valley High School, has been a mentor with the Hood River County Big Brother/Big Sister Program for the past 18 months, meeting each week with a fourth-grader named Kyle.
“It’s a true friendship,” said a surprised Bounds after she accepted the honor at United Way’s annual recognition event July 7 at Hospice of the Gorge.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” said Bounds, who will attend Western Oregon University this fall. She came to the United Way event knowing she was nominated but not sure she would win. “There are so many great people in this room,” she said.
“If anyone doubts they can be of help and make a difference, I could tell them they just need to try it and they will see they can,” Bounds said, when asked how she would encourage young people who are interested in volunteering but unsure of their potential.
Representatives of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and more than a dozen other agencies attending the event accepted checks from the United Way, handed out by board president Paul Blackburn. United Way also presented a plaque to longtime board member Dick Schmuck for his years of service to United Way.
Each year the United Way recognizes a volunteer from among its 16 or so recipient agencies, for their work in the community. Volunteers with senior meals, FISH, and Court Appointed Special Advocates program have been honored in recent years.
This year it was a teenager’s turn, for her role in guiding a fourth-grade boy in need of positive companionship.
“Ms. Bounds is an exemplary mentor to a fourth grade boy,” wrote Jennifer Swanson, Big Brothers/Big Sisters On-Site Supervisor in her nomination letter.
“The dedication and friendship Ms. Bounds unselfishly offers her Little Brother is evident through her consistent friendship and warm support.”
Her Little Brother, Kyle (not his real name) attends May Street Elementary. The two meet each Monday after school for an hour. They play games, talk, work on projects and “just be themselves with one another,” Swanson wrote.
Bounds and Kyle were matched up shortly after Kyle arrived in the Gorge from the Midwest.
“Kyle knows he can count on Ms. Bounds to be at May Street Elementary each Monday afternoon. In return, Ms. Bounds understands her responsibility to Kyle as a consistent friend in his life.”