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Students provide a Day of Service | SLIDESHOW

ARLINGTON — Although the year’s first snowfall forced them to push back their plans, Marysville youths still took “a day on, not a day off” to help out an Arlington woman in need, as part of a broader campaign to honor the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On Saturday, Jan. 28, half a dozen teen volunteers from the Marysville YMCA Minority Achievers Program visited the Arlington home of disabled senior Sandee Wynkoop, joining the more than 200 student and adult volunteers to take part in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service that was organized by the United Way of Snohomish County and had originally been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 16, on this year’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

For Jennifer Cabrera and Leticia Aparicio of the Bio-Med Academy at Marysville Getchell High School, this marked their second Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on behalf of Wynkoop, a 58-year-old who’s undergone multiple surgeries and stays in both hospitals and nursing homes as a result of her degenerative disc disease and osteoporosis since 2009.

“My spine is basically crumbling,” Wynkoop said, as the students performed a number of household chores that she once took for granted that she could complete on her own. “The first time these kids came here, I didn’t have any in-home help. I can’t lift my arms above my neck and I have a limited range of motion. It takes me an hour just to make the bed. Oh, these kids make me feel so good.”

As Cabrera and Aparicio not only folded Wynkoop’s sheets, but also dusted down all the shelves and keepsakes in her bedroom, they reflected on how helping her has made them feel.

“It’s good to see her doing a bit better,” Cabrera said. “She was having a hard time last year.”

“It feels good to give back to the community like this,” Aparicio said. “When we see her smile, we know we’ve been able to improve her life in some small way.”

As fellow Bio-Med Academy student Ruby Salcedo cleaned the bathroom and Edgar Carretero of Marysville-Pilchuck High School alternated between sweeping the floors, taking out the trash, moving heavy items into the outdoor storage shed and drilling hanging posts into the walls to place photographs for Wynkoop, Marysville YMCA Latin Minority Achievers Program Coordinator Ada Garza explained that her teen volunteers make return visits to these seniors and people with  disabilities outside of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

“We’ve gone back to several of these homes for their birthdays, with cakes and balloons in hand,” Garza said. “We want them to know we’re thinking about them during the rest of the year. If we can brighten their spirits, why not?”

“These are the best kids ever,” Wynkoop said. “There’s all this junk in the news about the bad kids, but the good kids don’t get nearly as much credit. These kids are doing more than they have to, and they deserve as much recognition for it as we can give them.”

Dennis Smith, the CEO of the United Way of Snohomish County, explained to the 181 high school students and 36 adult volunteers who turned out to help out seniors and people with disabilities that day that he was 14 years old when King gave his “I have a dream” speech, and 19 years old when King was assassinated, putting him in the same age range as most them when King did much of his most well-known work.

“King said that it made one great to reach out to others with love and service,” Smith said. “Every one of you is great for doing this.”

 

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