Caitlyn Fick, a junior at Hood River Valley High School, believes in helping others.
She started early — as a 4-year-old, she helped her mother, Carolyn, with a lemonade stand after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., to raise money for victims. She doesn’t remember much about that, but the lesson stuck.
“I feel like it’s my duty to help people who aren’t as fortunate as I am,” she said. “I’m lucky to have a family that supports me. And it feels good to help other people.”
Today, Fick works with a number of agencies through the high school, including Youth Heart of Hospice, visiting patients. The organization is close to her heart because her grandmother was in hospice care before passing away, she said.
She also volunteers with the Leos Club, a branch of Lions International. Every first Saturday of the month, Leos can be found in Rosauers’ parking lot, collecting and sorting cans and bottles to raise funds for local charities and organizations.
“It’s a big job,” she said. “People bring us their bottles and cans, and we have to sort them by brand and size. We make a lot of money for that, but half of it always goes back to the community.” Participating Leos decide which charitable organization will receive that month’s raised funds. And if an organization needs volunteers, it can alert the Leos, who will pass around sign-up sheets at their next meeting.
Even her school work takes on a service theme. For her EA Project —Extended Application Project, something every junior at Hood River Valley High must complete — she is putting on a benefit concert and silent auction for an organization called Girl Up.
“It supports girls in developing countries, to have access to an education because so many girls don’t have the opportunity to get an education. I think that’s really important,” she said.
Fick’s benefit will be Dec. 7 at Gallery 301 (the old City Hall building, 301 Oak St.), from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the gallery or at Waucoma Bookstore, and will also be available at the door.
The all-girl, high school singing group Aurora will perform (Fick is one of its members), and she’s collected artwork from local artists including Mark Nilsson, Sue Sutherland and Shelley Toon-Lindberg for the silent auction. She’s enlisted a friend to take pictures on the night of the event to document it, and has been keeping a journal since beginning the project.
“I have to present my project to a panel of judges at the end of the semester, and they decide whether or not I passed,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but I’m really excited.”
Fick is involved in a variety of high school activities in addition to her volunteer work. She is participating in the fall musical, “Reach 4 It!”, written by music teacher Mark Steighner. She plays the character of Felicia, whom everyone calls Bill.
“She’s the producer in the show,” she said. “The producer before her was named Bill, so that’s why everyone calls me Bill. At the beginning of the show, I’m not very confident and I don’t really know what I’m getting myself into,” she said. “But as the show progresses, I gain more confidence and I start to believe in myself more and more.”
Fick said she didn’t know what she was getting into when she took the role — mostly because it hadn’t been written yet.
“It’s been a lot of work; it’s way more work than I thought it was going to be, memorizing, blocking, music, but it’s been really rewarding. I’m really happy I got this opportunity.
“Last year I just had a small solo and a couple of lines, and it was a big jump going from that kind of role to this one, but I am really excited. I love it. It’s actually a lot like me, and I’m having a great time doing it.” (See page A3 for performance details.)
While this is the last weekend for the musical, Fick won’t get any downtime when it ends. She swims on the high school team during its winter season, which will start next week. She has participated on state relay teams her freshman and sophomore years, and notes that the girls’ team has been district champions for the past few years.
And in the spring, she runs 400- and 800-meter track events — last year, Fick went to state for the first time in the 800.
“We do a lot of sprint work,” she said of the practices. “I love my teammates and I love my coach, Kristen Uhler. She’s amazing. She’s like my second mom.”
Although it’s still early in her junior year, Fick is already thinking about college. She’s interested in math, science and English, but wants to do something that will benefit others as well. To that end, she’s thinking about stem cell or cancer research.
“That would allow me to do math and science, and allow me to write up reports,” she said.
In her free time, she can be found hanging out with her family — mom Carolyn, a fifth-grade teacher at Westside; dad Tom, an accountant; and brother Ben, a sixth-grader at Hood River Middle School — or doing homework.
“I actually love hanging out with my family,” she said. And she has a “good core group of friends” whom she enjoys spending time with, too.
“If I have the chance, I’ll hang out with my friends and my family as much as possible.”