Sioux Falls S.D. (KELO AM) - This fall marks the 15 year anniversary of the Serve and Learn Student Association (SALSA), a high schools volunteer club. In 1999, the Helpline Center developed SALSA as a way to connect youth with opportunities to serve. It also allows teens to create and carry out meaningful service projects that meet community needs and inspire youth to get involved.
Jen Abels, SALSA Coordinator said, “Statistically, teens who volunteer become adults who volunteer so by starting the habit early, SALSA is making a difference right now and in the years to come.”
The students of the organization have logged over 100,000 hours of service since the program started. Hours tracked include any for a nonprofit, social service or government program. Last year, SALSA connected with 1,500 students from the Sioux Empire. Youth join SALSA to meet new friends, explore careers through volunteerism, gain leadership experience through the Youth Action Council, earn hours for scholarship applications and make a difference in their community
When asked to reflect on how SALSA has made a difference in their lives, Washington High School student Robert Goetz stated, “SALSA has impacted my life by helping me gain experiences and learning how to work hard and help others out in our community.” Lauren Brudigan, added, “SALSA has been one of the greatest and influential things that I have become involved in.”
SALSA has monthly meetings at 5 public high schools (Washington, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Brandon Valley and New Tech High School). At the meetings, students receive information about individual volunteer opportunities as well as have the opportunity to sign up for SALSA Wide Events that involves students from all of the schools coming together to volunteer. They also have a guest speaker from an area nonprofit, as well as a hands-on project that they can work on with during the meeting.
The Helpline Center assists students in connecting with volunteer opportunities that match their availability and interests. With so many activities competing for the time and attention of high school students, SALSA’s flexibility make it an ideal club to get involved in.
For information on SALSA or other volunteer opportunities please call the Helpline Center at 2-1-1 or visit www.helplinecenter.org and click on Volunteer Services.