Marlaina Perelshtein, 17, of Grafton, Wis., a senior at Grafton High School, founded a volunteer group at her school that gives students the opportunity to participate in service activities with numerous nonprofit organizations. While volunteering at the Childrens Hospital of Wisconsin at age 12, Marlaina met a little boy awaiting a heart transplant, and realized the impact that volunteers can make on those who are sick or in need. It was at that moment that I knew more people needed to get involved as there is strength in numbers, she said.
Marlaina continued to volunteer on her own, doing things like chairing a committee for a March of Dimes fundraising walk, assisting with Childrens Hospitals annual prom, and singing to young patients in the pediatric cancer ward. Eventually, however, she decided she needed to share her love of volunteering with fellow students by forming a volunteer group at her school. She met with school administrators to propose a student-run organization called Teens on the Scene (TOS), which soon became an official school activity. When the group meets, each member must propose at least one service opportunity so that there are plenty of ideas to choose from. Many of the opportunities result from Marlainas close ties to organizations such as Childrens Hospital, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Childrens Miracle Network and Make-A-Wish Foundation. The concept has been so successful that there are now four more TOS chapters across Wisconsin. Marlaina has also met with state lawmakers in an effort to require volunteer service hours to graduate high school with honors in Wisconsin. My friends frequently question my love of volunteering, said Marlaina. What they dont realize is that volunteering can be just as fun as any other activity.