Libertyville teen impresses as volunteer
Jon Sullivan of Libertyville is a senior at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein. He spent the past two summers volunteering with the Special Recreation Association of Central Lake County. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
NAME: John Sullivan
VOCATION: Carmel Catholic H.S. senior; football player; Special Recreation Association volunteer
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “(Volunteering) helps me widen my perspective and how I can really be of help to others.”
Updated: October 8, 2012 8:14AM
LIBERTYVILLE — John Sullivan wanted to be better able to relate to his cousin, who has Down syndrome.
That’s why he spent the last two summers as a volunteer for the Special Recreation Association of Central Lake County day camp. In fact, the only reason the Carmel Catholic High School senior is not volunteering at the organization this fall is because he is a wide receiver on the Corsairs’ football team.
“He was excellent. He related well to (the campers). He really made sure they were having fun and were successful with their activities, no matter the ability of the camper,” SRACLC Recreation Coordinator Kelly Weber said of Sullivan’s stint as a volunteer.
Sullivan, 17, worked with one to four campers to help them with daily camp activities for about a month. Weber said he volunteered daily to help work with the campers. To be a volunteer, a person has to be compassionate, have patience and adapt to different abilities and need. They also have to be fun and outgoing. Sullivan has all these traits, Weber said.
She said she would “absolutely welcome” Sullivan back. SRACLC was formed in 1976 to provide year-round recreation services for people with disabilities.
Sullivan said he is planning on exploring volunteer opportunities at SRACLC in the spring.
“I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “I wanted to gain a better understanding about people who are different from me and get a broader understanding of how I can help them.”
Sullivan spent the last two summers volunteering at SRACLC in Vernon Hills. Before that, he helped with Carmel’s after-school day care program helping tutor students.
“(Volunteering) puts me in situations where I try to put into practice what I’ve been learning since third grade. It helps me widen my perspective and how I can really be of help to others,” he said.
The lessons from third grade he was referring to are religious lessons to help others.
He has been on his school’s football team for four years.
He also is involved in his school’s Student Ambassador Club, which welcomes incoming freshmen. He is learning how to broaden his perspective on the people around him through his school’s Diversity Club.
He plans on attending Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., to major in finance.
“My dad is in business. I’ve always been fascinated with stocks ... that’s a passion I’ve shared with my dad,” Sullivan said.