Her chance to give back to the community

The senior who received the President Volunteer Service Award


Lauren Gucwa standing with her award.

Grace Hager

Most high schoolers don’t think about spending their time helping those in need, but senior Lauren Gucwa volunteers around 8-10 hours per month and she can sometimes reach 30 hours in a month.

She started in 2009 when she was only 8 years old. She often volunteers with her friends, family and other members of her church.

My teaching work involves answering commonly asked Bible questions and leading thought-provoking discussions with people of all ages, ethnicities and religions,” Gucwa said.

Last September at the age of 17, she started volunteering her time to advocate for domestic abuse.

I am a part-time student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center through the High School Alliance Program,” Gucwa said. “Students were assigned to run an awareness project on a topic of our choice, so a group of friends and I chose domestic abuse because it is a huge issue worldwide that definitely deserves more recognition. I am currently running a social media campaign with the goal of informing the community, encouraging people to talk about a sensitive topic, and hopefully preventing abuse. I have partnered with the Women’s Center for Advancement. We’ve organized several guest speaker presentations in local high schools and have been able to hang up awareness posters. “

Although most people believe they don’t have time to volunteer, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School recently found that people who serve others feel like they have time to spare. The study, which asked separate groups to help others or to do something else, showed that those who helped others felt more accomplished, and further, that they could do even more.

“These volunteering experiences have taught me that even though I’m young, I still have a voice that I can use to make an impact,” Gucwa said. “Using it for the greater good not only improves the lives of others, but it also makes me a more positive and happy person.”

When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy

She has done a tremendous amount of work over the last eight years that she has volunteered. Lauren believes that volunteering is an experience you won’t find anywhere else. The feeling of giving back is greater than that of receiving.

“Giving of my time, energy, and resources willingly to help the lives of others for these causes have proven to be more enriching than money ever could be,” Gucwa said. “Volunteering proves to me that there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving. After graduation, I will be able to devote more time to this area of my life and reach even more people. Volunteering is a very humbling experience that makes you appreciate the simple things, and I highly recommend that everyone try it at some point in their lives.”

Lauren applied for the President Volunteer Service Award, an award that is given by the president to honor the hard work done by volunteers that have done hundreds of hours of work, but she had no idea that she was going to win it.

“On Thursday, February 21st, 2019, my first block teacher told all the students that starting class would be delayed because of a scheduled event.” Gucwa said, “I personally thought it was going to be a fire drill or something along those lines, and I was dreading going back into the cold. To my surprise, Dr. Tiemann came into my first block classroom and presented the award to me in front of my class. He called me up to the front of the room and had me tell my classmates about the volunteer work I do. He took a picture with me and shook my hand. Dr. Tiemann also commended my hard work, thanked me for setting a positive example in being kind and encouraged me to keep up the good work.”

Lauren Gucwa has devoted her life to helping others. Volunteering to most people is a second thought and is seen as a school project and nothing more. But to Lauren, it’s her life to help others succeed and live life as best as possible.