Hailey Westenskow
Contributing Writer

It’s no secret that high school can be a very challenging time of life for teenagers. Between trying to keep up with grades, sports, trends and the status quo, spare time is few and far between. Some teens, however, are giving some of that precious time up to help in community service projects and with nonprofit organizations. For them, this is what makes school and life better.

“It’s an overall amazing experience,” Lily Condos, a junior volunteer at Little Lambs Foundation, said. “We hear a lot about the negative or bad things that happen in the world and not the good as often … There are so many good people in this world that are willing to help others.”

Little Lambs is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that, according to the Little Lambs website, “provides Utah children and families with basic necessities that they can’t afford or otherwise do not have access to.” Specifically, they provide “diapers and baby supplies to low-income families and comfort kits to children who are placed in foster care, entering emergency shelters and escaping domestic violence.”

As a teen ambassador, Lily helps with fundraisers, events, and other duties around the warehouse, and is highly engaged with the community to encourage donations. This program began six years ago, when organizer Shauna Thorpe saw an opportunity lying in the relationship between teens and their peers. “The whole goal of the teen ambassador program is empowering youth to see that they can make a difference — that they don’t have to be an adult before they can start serving each other,” Shauna said.

The teen ambassador program brings an opportunity for young people to witness different challenges from their own. Though they may not have financial difficulties within their own family, they get to go and see what it’s like for other teens and help them along the way. As an added bonus, they get to associate with like-minded teens who are also part of the volunteer program.

“When teens come together for a common goal, boy can they make things happen,” Shauna said. “We underestimate teenagers; they’re remarkable in what they can do!”

Boston Haws, another teen ambassador at Little Lambs, brought up that oftentimes, he sees kids he recognizes from school that he didn’t expect to be in the foster system. For Boston, this makes serving them much more meaningful.

“It’s really cool to be able to help in the community and know you’re benefiting your friends, your peers, some people you maybe don’t know, but you know you’re helping them out,” Boston said.

Lily’s mother, Corinne, shared her experience as she has watched Lily become more compassionate toward others, and more able to be a friend to those that may be struggling. In Lily’s case, she was only 11 or 12 when she began her journey as an ambassador at Little Lambs, and joining forced her to get outside of her comfort zone.

“I wasn’t very social, and talking to new people was really hard,” Lily said. “Forcing myself to talk to all of these different people who come from different backgrounds and have different struggles, it’s been really cool to be able to branch out and I’ve definitely developed some skills that help me in school, at work, and other types of things.” In reflection of their time serving the community, both Boston and Lily emphatically advise other teenagers to “Go for it!”