Nearly 500 students earn varsity letters in community service from United Way of Pierce County

Tacoma News TribuneMay 15, 2014 

Rogers High School senior Allison Wusterbarth will be honored as youth volunteer of the year by United Way of Pierce County in a ceremony at 7 p.m. May 21 at the Washington State Fair Showplex in Puyallup. 

She will be among 481 Pierce County high school students who will receive varsity letters in community service at the ceremony, sponsored by Youth United, a program of United Way of Pierce County. The program recognizes students in grades nine through 12 who volunteered 145 hours or more of community service between April 1, 2013  and March 31, 2014. Collectively, these students volunteered more than 119,000 hours. 

Allison will earn her fourth community service varsity letter at the May 21 event. She is a member of the United Way Youth Leadership Council, and vice president for the Puyallup chapter. Since ninth grade, she has accumulated over 500 hours of volunteer work with organizations such as the National Honor Society, Key Club and Brookdale Living Center, a home for memory loss and dementia patients.

She sums up her commitment to volunteering this way: “These people who need my help - our help - are not going away. Neither should the volunteers.”

In addition to being named Youth Volunteer of the Year, Allison will also receive a Willie Stewart Community Scholarship.

She is one of 15 seniors to earn the scholarship. Eligibility requires students to qualify for the varsity letter, describe their most rewarding volunteer experience and demonstrate a history of community service throughout high school. Scholarships range from $1,500 to $2,500.

Since its inception in 2002, when just seven varsity letters were awarded, the varsity letter program has grown. Pierce County was the first county in the nation to offer it, and United Way of Pierce County is working with communities across the country to develop similar programs. 


United Way youth volunteers by the numbers

Number of youth honored: 481

Average number of hours per volunteer: 249

Top number of hours by a single student: 1,945

Value of the volunteer time: Over $3.2 million

Number of first-time recipients: 270

Number of fourth-year recipients: 29

Number of schools represented: 34


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