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It’s never too early to start giving back to your community, and Grand Falls-Windsor’s Luke Rowsell is a prime example of this.
The 18-year-old, in his first year of university doing the comprehensive arts and science (CAS) transfer program at College of the North Atlantic, pre-veterinary stream, started volunteering at the age of five.
“My first experience was a fundraiser and collection event where we did a reading of A Christmas Carol and collected food for the food bank,” Rowsell reminisces.
“At the time, where I was so young, when someone told me I could help people who needed it, I jumped at the opportunity.”
The reading was through Northcliffe Drama Club, where they took players from that year’s Christmas Show, and read at the Memorial United Church.
Since then, he has been involved in many organizations, including Grand Falls-Windsor Food Bank, Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador Snowmobile Federation/Exploits TrailNet, Association for New Canadians, Exploits Valley SPCA, Exploits Valley YMCA, Grand Falls – Windsor Snow Angels, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Canadian Blood Services, school leadership chair, concert band, breakfast program and graduation committee.
The school leadership program is a program that recruits students to assist in leading events and organizing student lead programs, Rowsell explains, adding he chaired or co-chaired the committees for six years.
He’s also embraced the blood and stem cell peer recruiter program. Both involve attracting peers to donate blood through local banks and to donate stem cells. The stem cell donation system is something he started.
Exploits Valley High teacher Dave Noel says, “he took the initiative to … register and get a kit sent into the school whereby kids could register and become stem cell donors for the Canadian Stem Cell Registry.”
“After I had gone through the process and educated myself … I began giving presentations to fellow students and encouraging them to donate … At this point in time, it is not recognized as an actual position through Blood Services Canada. This is just an initiative that I have implemented myself, however, I have been working on getting others to assist in this and we can spread the word even faster.”
Rowsell also volunteered for World Rivers Day every September in high school. He was instrumental in helping organize the cleanup and cleaning along the Exploits River with Exploits Valley High and the World River’s Day committee. He was also part of the Exploits Valley High spring cleanups.
“If it involved community service, moving us forward as a school and a community, he was there,” Noel says.
Rowsell is currently volunteering through the Exploits TrailNet, as well as the Newfoundland and Labrador snowmobile federation. He has been assisting these organizations for about four years.
“I ride the trails plenty myself in the winter, so giving back only seemed the right thing to do,” Rowsell says.
He is also still supporting the food bank as well as donating and peer recruiting for Canadian Blood Services and the Stem Cell Registry. He’d eventually like to offer veterinary services to those who may struggle to afford the services and work closely with the SPCA.
“I recognize that without volunteerism occurring within the community, there would be a multitude of organizations which would suffer greatly,” Rowsell says.
“Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.’ The feeling knowing that you may be the reason that someone eats that day or someone gets to enjoy the environment around them has no bounds as to how it may make you feel.”
Balancing school, extracurricular activities and volunteering can be difficult. School is Rowsell’s priority, however, when leading a busy lifestyle extracurricular activities and community involvement are imperative to mental and physical health.
“I find that through these other activities I also increase my productivity and my ability to focus,” Rowsell says.
For his countless efforts, Rowsell was the recipient of a recent Town of Grand Falls-Windsor Youth of the Year Award.
“I would like to thank anyone and everyone who advocated for me as the recipient of the award, as well as anyone who is in Grand Falls-Windsor currently and is a fellow volunteer,” Rowsell says. “A quote which never leaves the back of my mind has always been one from Sherry Anderson: ‘Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they’re priceless.’”