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LARSON: Labors of love making people happy

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

Labors of love. I see them happening all over the county. And many of them are being performed by our young people.

Marianna Markley, of Lilburn, needed a project for her Girl Scout Gold Award. As a lifelong swimmer, this Parkview senior chose to build a seating area by the tennis courts and rebuild some of the workout equipment on the field at Gwinnett Aquatics Center.

“I’m going to help out a community that has helped shape me as an individual,” Marianna said.

“Gwinnett Aquatics has a great group of parents, swimmers, and coaches who are incredibly dedicated to the sport.”

Savannah Tully, a Snellville resident and student at St. John Neuman Regional Catholic School, is earning her Gold Award with a project titled “Home is Where the HeART is” at Rainbow Village, a transitional housing community for homeless families with children.

“My project has three parts,” Savannah said. “ First, I want to introduce children to art so that they can express themselves while at the same time help them to realize their capabilities. I was fortunate enough to be able to take art lessons when I was young, so I want to give that knowledge back to other children who can’t afford lessons outside of school. Not only is art fun, but it has been shown to have many positive benefits for children such as developing fine motor skills, stimulating and developing the imagination and critical thinking, and refining cognitive and creative skills just to mention a few.

“Second, I will be creating a unique painting for the facility that reflects the work that they do. Third, I will be establishing an art supply cabinet so the children can continue to work on art longer after my project ends. Saint John Neumann has graciously offered to help me by annually collecting art supplies from their students to help keep the cabinet stocked. I have also had some of my neighbors offer to help with this endeavor.”

In 2008, as a sixth-grader at St. John Neuman, Jonathan Sheffield, of Grayson, started his own a labor of love.

“I had been cutting my grandmother’s yard for a few years and realized other people need help from time to time doing yard work,” Jonathan said. “I brainstormed and came up with H. A.P.P.Y. (Helping All People Perform Yardword.) to help the elderly or those who have a temporary need due to an illness or accident.”

He contacted local churches and other organizations to get out the word about his service.

“Working with H.A.P.P.Y for the past six years has been very rewarding for me. It has been nice to help those who have a need and who appreciate the help,” he said.

Jonathan is now a senior at St. Pius High School and has recruited friends there to help with H.A.P.P.Y.

And how happy I am to write about what some of our young people are working on in the community.

Susan Larson is a writer fro Lilburn. E-mail her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.