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Huntington Woods

May 1, 2013

Teen Council honored for community service

By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer

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Amanda Schwartz, 17, left, and Wendy Wismer, 18, accept the Community Service Award from the Michigan Recreation & Park Association March 20 during a ceremony at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing.

HUNTINGTON WOODS — The Huntington Woods Teen Council members do not receive pay, but the group of about 60 students, ranging from sixth-graders to seniors, helps out at community events to gain experience and make their city a better place.

During the annual awards banquet at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing March 20, the Teen Council was awarded the Community Service Award by the Michigan Recreation & Park Association for volunteerism and community contributions.

Council coordinator Wendy Wismer, 18, and Council Secretary Amanda Schwartz, 17, were at the banquet to accept the award. Both Berkley High School seniors voiced their excitement that the “small” Huntington Woods Teen Council was honored above other, bigger councils.

“Huntington Woods is such a small city, so to be recognized by the state, I think it is incredible,” Wismer said. “It shows how dedicated our council is and how hard we work. This award is a great way for the state to see these cities no one has heard of and that they can make such a difference.”

The Teen Council is a community service organization that helps out at numerous events around Huntington Woods and surrounding communities. Wismer said, in her time, the council has done can drives, collected and donated Halloween candy and run their own event.

The Parents Night Out: Paws for a Cause event last April raised money that went to animal organizations for research and to give animals a good home. The council also holds its own meetings to discuss upcoming events and opportunities to volunteer.

As secretary, Schwartz takes notes, records volunteers and types up all the information from the meetings. As she moved into her final year of high school, Schwartz said she had to make some cutbacks on groups and organizations she was a part of, but Teen Council was one she had to continue.

“I noticed that, when you are short on time, you have to do things you care about, and I believe (Teen Council) is something to give my time to, and I want to be an active member,” she said. “I like being an active member in the community and meeting a lot of people. This is a close-knit, small city and it is a huge honor for everyone in the Teen Council to receive this honor.”

Another monthly event the Teen Council puts on involves going out and volunteering to set up meals for senior citizens and playing games with them. The members also set up ice cream socials for elementary students.

Being a smaller town, Huntington Woods Recreation program coordinator Tracy Shanley said that a lot of the events the Parks and Recreation Department puts on would be a lot harder without the Teen Council.

“Their volunteerism is an integral part of the success of our programs,” Shanley said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

Wismer said not only is Teen Council a great way to be involved in the community, but it is also a great way for teenagers to stay out of trouble.

“I think a lot of teenagers get a bad rap, like they sit around and are not active,” she said. “This is a good way for others to see we are interested and involved in helping our city. I wanted to feel like part of the city and help out. It is only one square mile, but we have so many events and so much going on. The Teen Council has allowed me to participate.”

Both Wismer and Schwartz will be moving on to study at the University of Michigan in the fall — Wismer studying to be a pediatrician and Schwartz a civil litigator. Still, they both said Teen Council has piqued their interest in city government and planted a seed for later in life.

“This is my last year on Teen Council, and it is something I will greatly miss, and it has had a tremendous impact on my life,” Wismer said. “This is something I foresee loving as I’m older and have more time. I would like to be in charge of Teen Council or be involved in City Council.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Joshua Gordon at jgordon@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1077.