BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One Power of 9 super volunteer has a total of volunteer hours that would be a life goal for some people, but she's logged almost 500 hours before she's even graduated high school.
Alexandria Whitten is a senior at St. Joseph Academy and she warmed to the conversation when I asked if she has pets.
"Yes, I have two birds," she beamed, pulling out her phone to show us shots.
"One of them is actually oldest living cockatiel in the world. About 35. They're only supposed to live about 25! I've been trying to get my parents to put him in the Guinness Book of World Records, but they're not gonna do that," She laughed.
Alexandria may not have realized how massive her achievement is until someone told her with almost 500 hours! See she began in the 8th grade, which is when you can start Youth Volunteer Corps with the Capital Area United Way. A friend of her mother's suggested that she sign up and year-round she has worked, possibly, in every community agency in the United Way's galaxy. She smiled when she thought of the service requirement she has at St. Joseph's Academy.
"The whole year we have a requirement of about 15 hours, and you get an award whenever you do 50 each year, but I've done more than 100 each time, so I have gotten that award."
Well, I sputtered incredulously.
"So I'm hearing you've done like 450? Something like that?" Alex nodded, "Yes ma'am."
Despite having a steady schedule of duties and homework as St. Joe's is a demanding school, Alex arranges and prioritizes her time so that she can invest even more time and energy with YVC.
She admitted to do the volunteer work is to fall in love with the people.
"Some of my favorite projects are with Special Olympics. I just kind of talk to the athletes, teach them about healthy living. And try to get to know them one on one, and have a conversation with them. I've also worked with the ARC of Baton Rouge and I've done their swim camp three times."
The Association for Retarded Citizens offers swimming lessons at LSU and Alexandria has been paired with individual swimmers to play with him or her and learn good swimming techniques.
As a senior, Alexandria represented Baton Rouge YVC at a national summit for YVC in Philadelphia three weeks ago. Because of the nature of their organization, she helped the group pull trash out of an area creek or small river.
They visited history in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin's grave, the Liberty Bell. It was a gathering where Alex said she felt completely at home. The other teens were interested in volunteering too. They all shared that passion.
When they shared the ideas of things they had done in their own cities, Whitten said she heard some great ideas for Baton Rouge.
She may not have chosen a career yet, but one thing is clear, she said, "Whatever I end up doing, I will continue during service throughout my life."
Louisiana Honda Dealers are a new major sponsor of the Power of 9 Volunteer Awards. The Capital Area United Way's Volunteer Center and WAFB are also proud sponsors.