Helping Westport seniors latest 'oar in water' for active teen
Published 5:29 pm, Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Staples High senior Adam Yormark hopes to organize a community-service project assisting Westport senior citizens, while at the same time juggling college admissions essays and his favorite pastime: rowing.
Through a program called Staples Cares, a group of Staples seniors plan to visit the homes of older adults living independently to set their clocks, depending on the season, to adjust the time for Daylight Savings Time, and at the same time check the home's smoke detector batteries.
"I hope it works to bring together the Westport community more than it is right now, because I feel like there isn't really much of a connection between the senior citizens of Westport and the high school students," said Yormark.
And while carrying out that mission, Staples seniors also would ask if there are any other simple tasks they could help with.
Because the word about Staples Cares hasn't yet reached as many people as he would like, Yormark, 17, said the program would be pushed back to the spring rather than the end of Daylight Savings Time this weekend.
Yormark first had the idea for the program last spring when Staples Principal John Dodig met with juniors to encourage them to be more involved in service activities.
Dodig wanted the town's teenagers to be seen in a more positive light, hoping such projects could serve as a thank you for tax support of the public schools. "He put out the idea for somebody to do a community-service project for the senior class, which would hopefully influence the town and make everyone realize how great the seniors are," said Yormark.
While visiting his grandmother in Florida, Yormark noticed that tasks that were simple for him around her home were different for her.
After four years of trying to get the senior class involved in a unified community-service project, Dodig said he was "thrilled" when Yormark came forward with his suggestion.
"It would be his legacy to the school if it catches on," said Dodig. "I hope that if it is successful, more seniors would opt to do the same." To help coordinate plans for the project, Yormark got in touch with the town's Human Services Department.
Theresa Geigengack, assistant director of the department, said the teen showed enthusiasm when he proposed the project to help seniors. She added that 30 to 40 senior citizens she has called so far have reacted favorably to the program.
"Most of them seem to feel that they can manage setting the clocks," she said, "but they really appreciate changing the batteries on smoke detectors."
Lately, Yormark, an aspiring engineer has been swamped with college essays, and hopes to attend Tufts University next fall. In addition, he also is applying for early-decision acceptance to Miami, Tulane or Lehigh universities, as well as Cornell University under standard admissions guidelines.
An avid rower, Yormark spends lots of time at the Saugatuck Rowing Club, where he's been rowing since freshman year.
"I like the camaraderie that goes on at the club and I like that it gets me in shape," said Yormark. "The coaches are wonderful. Even though the actual workouts are difficult, it's a wonderful feeling knowing you've completed them."
Even though Staples Cares is a new endeavor, Yormark is no stranger to community service. He has traveled to two impoverished nations with a group called Builders Beyond Borders, which helps construct educational and medical facilities for people in need.
During his sophomore year, the Westport group built an aqueduct in the Dominican Republic. A year later, students built bathrooms and an infirmary for a children's school in Peru.
Yormark said it was rewarding to know the visiting students' efforts would continue to be a benefit long past their visit.
"I knew that the people who lived in that village would forever remember what we gave them and their lives would be better because of it," said Yormark. "We saved them hours of having to walk to collect water and walk back every day."