Trennery Turner, 18, of Bloomfield, N.M., a senior at Piedra Vista High School, has served over the past seven years as a mentor to children in need, a classroom assistant for kids with disabilities, a teacher of healthy lifestyles, and a volunteer at a local hospital. “The two distinct ‘cultures’ in our community are the proverbial ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ because poverty is an overwhelming burden in our area,” she said. “I know that fusing this gap is a daunting task, but I want to aid in the struggle against the growing chasm between human decency and human dignity.” Inspired by her parents, both high school teachers whose “entire life mission is to empower young people,” Trennery naturally began her volunteer career by focusing on children facing disadvantages.
When she was in the fifth grade, she began helping younger children from low-income families learn rodeo skills, such as horsemanship. In middle school, she volunteered as an assistant in the classroom for children with disabilities and helped them with social, academic and recreational skills. Two years ago, Trennery started volunteering as a “big sister” with Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Mexico. In addition, Trennery helps organize and facilitate programs for younger students that promote drug- and alcohol-free lifestyles, and assists staff and patients at the San Juan Regional Medical Center. Recently, she was alerted to a man outside the hospital who was homeless, intoxicated and possibly suffering from an overdose. “People were walking around him as if he didn’t exist,” Trennery said. She called for help and, thankfully, her quick response saved the man’s life, for which she was recognized by the hospital’s board of directors.