Did you have previous volunteer experience?
I had delivered food with FISH of Knox County and worked at the FISH Hospitality Pantries [two separate organizations]. I started going just for the volunteer hours—I had to have them to graduate from Christian Academy of Knoxville. After serving, I changed. It was just what I saw, the people and the fellowship. Nobody likes being hungry.
And that's when you got the idea to start a FISH group involving all area high schools?
Technically I'm the founder, but it was a team effort involving other teen volunteers and some adults. The Friends of FISH foundation has really helped us out, and community leaders and a professional marketing firm and a public relations group are working with us, too. It's not just thrown together. It's a full attack on hunger in Knoxville. We want to set a solid foundation that will keep rolling long after we've graduated. That's our prayer.
What's it like, distributing food?
I'm a senior in high school, and it's really hard to keep from getting caught up in school, friends, and family and forgetting what goes on around us. This is humbling. You see it could happen to anybody.
How many volunteer?
Instead of only going for numbers, we're going for leaders. Our goal by the end of the semester is 12 high schools total, with two solid leaders each. But I don't want students to think, "I can't do this, I barely have time to do my homework." You can get involved every now and then, too.
What would you tell someone who's uncomfortable volunteering?
Don't worry about it. There are so many different things you can do, labeling food, packaging, so many options if you're shy. And this is a great way to network with other bright, ambitious high schoolers.
E-mail Clark to get involved.