ECHS Students Serve Seniors
In addition to being held to high academic standards, Escondido Charter High School (ECHS) students spend many hours each month providing community service. ECHS students' longest-running community service project is performed at the 'Town & Country Club Park'. For eleven years now, the students have had a supervised, safe, after-school way of performing community service at this location. The ECHS National Honor Society (NHS) organizes and sponsors this project, which helps the senior citizens at this over-55 mobile home park that is conveniently located on East Valley Parkway a quarter mile from ECHS.
Every Tuesday after school, TCP teacher and NHS advisor Sonya Rea goes to 'Town & Country' where she meets the participating students for their two-hour community service opportunity. Each week, the 'Town & Country' management provides a list of tasks for the students to accomplish - tasks that are requested by park residents. The requests range from weeding yards to hanging curtains, digging out tree stumps, moving landscape rocks, and even the occasional window washing or vacuuming. "I call the managers each Tuesday to get assignments," said Rea.
'Town & Country' is managed by husband and wife team, Dave and Terry Carlson, who have a very positive opinion of the good work ECHS students have accomplished over the years. "The Charter students have been very good and they help in any way they can," remarked Terry. "They pull weeds, trim bushes, plant flowers, even vacuumed a house for an elderly resident. I normally have five or six residents a week who sign up for help. I think it helps young people learn how to deal with seniors. Sonya Rea goes from one group to another supervising. It works out well."
When asked how many residents there are at 'Town & Country', Rea said she did not know the exact number, but "we serve about 10 households who are multiple-multiple repeat customers and many others for whom we have worked at least once." When asked how happy the residents are with the work the Charter students perform, resident Grace Yoshi enthused: "Very, very, very happy! They all work together well." Some of the students recently 'groomed' her barrel cactus that had grown too high.
Community service has its small rewards as well. "There are occasional cookies or ice cream bars for the students," laughs Rea. Sometimes the homeowners give us treats, and, on occasion, the NHS rewards student participants with pizza."
How do the students like this community service opportunity? "This is my second year doing this. It's pretty cool. It feels good to help older people," said ECHS student Ramez Ghattas. "It's my second year too. It's fun because I can hang out with my friends and help the elderly," chimed in ECHS student Isaac Silva.