Why Volunteer with STOKED?
Words by Katie Ferraro
In 2014, I had the opportunity to be an after school coach at STOKED and little did I know the impact these kids would have on my life. The kids served by STOKED are some of the most positive, curious, fearless, and loving people that I have ever had the opportunity to serve. And I didn’t realize how much I needed these kids in my life until after I had to step down from my role as a coach.
Naturally, volunteering was the best way for me to be able to stay connected and fill the void that was created. And, let me tell you, I have never been more excited for 4:30am wake up calls for mentor days!
The students of STOKED may be victims of circumstance, but they are so rich in determination, have infectious personalities, and a love for action sports. They are so inspiring and nothing makes my day more than seeing one of them stand on a surfboard, skateboard, or snowboard for the first time.
But, perhaps the best thing about volunteering with STOKED is learning to surf, skate, and snowboard side by side with them. I for one didn’t know the first thing about skateboarding or surfing, but had minimal knowledge of how to get down a hill (I grew up in Michigan - there were no mountains) on a snowboard. However, once I was introduced to the action sports community,I was intrigued and wanted to learn more.
While I’m certainly not 17 anymore, I can confidently say that I have basic skills in all of these sports - enough so that I can surf, skate, and snowboard with them and have an endless supply of high fives. I’ve also learned a great deal from the kids, and the most amazing thing is that they are often times my source of encouragement to push myself into something a little more challenging than I might initially be comfortable with.
Bottom line, the main reason that I volunteer is because it makes my heart happy. I live to see these kids smile, overcome obstacles, and to learn beside them, but more importantly to give them the opportunity to success which I believe everyone deserves. I know that without the rest of the mentors (volunteers) and myself, these kids wouldn’t be able to have the opportunities that STOKED affords them.