Olivia Gates is a leader who has dedicated around 2,000 hours to community service during high school. While leaving a mark on several organizations, she has also maintained a near-perfect GPA and has pursued other interests, such as music.
Gates has been involved extensively with the Tom Taylor Family YMCA. After joining the Y at age 10, by 11 she was asking for increased responsibilities. As a teen, she became involved with the teen leadership program and has been instrumental in several programs.
“She is a visionary leader with the resolve needed to see projects through to completion,” said Brent Gaither, current youth programs director at Bremerton Family YMCA and past Gig Harbor Y teen and outreach director.
“She contributed to several volunteer initiatives to further the mission of our branch,” he said.
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As one example, Gates helped lead efforts to raise more than $3,000 for the youth development program. She has also served as a lead coordinator for the Kids Night Out Program, planning games and activities for as many as 40 kids ages 5-10, as well as running the program every month.
“What I like best about working with kids is that they’re very eager to learn and are excited about trying new things,” she said. “It’s refreshing to be around that.”
Gates says she was a bit nervous as a freshman so she decided to become involved at school as well. She has volunteered for many projects and organizations as part of Key Club, which she has also served as vice president and president.
“She continues to show exceptional organizational abilities and enthusiastic leadership,” said Roger Mayfield, Kiwanis Club’s adviser for Key Club.
Gates is a talented musician who has performed at various local venues at the encouragement of her guitar teacher.
“It has forced me out of my comfort zone. I wanted to challenge myself and I’m really glad I did it,” she said.
After studying Spanish since middle school, Gates traveled to Nicaragua in her sophomore year to teach English and Spanish literacy for a week to children in poverty. That experience, along with her work with the YMCA, has inspired her to pursue a career as a teacher.
“I learned that I love working with kids — I have a real passion for it,” she said.
She plans to major in early childhood education at the University of Washington.