Senior Mimi Reeder Focuses On Helping Others All Year Long


Peach Schilling

Mimi Reeder helping Joyce Elgadi on her essay during the Real Life tutoring program.

Peach Schilling, Associate Editor

The holiday season is a time of giving– giving thanks, giving gifts, giving love. Many families donate money, food, clothing, and other essentials to people in need to fill their hearts and make a difference in their community during this time of year. 

Senior Mimi Reeder gives her time, but she gives it all year long. Participating in local service throughout the whole year is one of her top priorities.

It all started when she filled out her application for the 2018-2019 service year through Youthlinc, a local organization that aims to create lifetime humanitarians through local and international service. She was accepted in the fall of 2018 and placed on a team that would work locally before traveling to Kenya in the summer of 2019.

Of her 80 required service hours, Reeder spent 40 hours working with Highland refugee students through Youthlinc’s very own peer-tutor program called Real Life. Other hours were spent volunteering at the Children’s Center and Ufit, an exercise program for people with disabilities.

Summer came and the young humanitarian was off to Kenya.

“It was super, super empowering,” Reeder said. “I feel like a lot of humanitarian organizations have one focal point and they travel and do just that. Youthlinc is a little different.” 

Trees were planted, lessons were taught, and buildings were constructed for the community members in a small town called Kajuki. Reeder was on the environmental team and focused on making a difference environmentally, although providing service in many other areas of need. 

“I remember one mother in particular that was overjoyed by our presence and was eager to talk to us,” Reeder said. “Throughout all of her stories about not having enough money for her mentally-ill daughter to get treatment, she maintained an optimistic smile.”

Although the woman was living her life in the mud and had to walk many miles each day for her water, she did it all with a smile on her face. Her smile grew even bigger when she was given a solar lights and two chickens from Reeder and her group. 

“She said ‘asanti san,’ which means ‘thank you’ in Swahili many times,” Reeder said. “I never knew I could be so impacted by a Kenyan woman.”

Reeder continues her work with Youthlinc and Real Life and was recently accepted as the assistant team leader for a group planning to travel to Peru this summer.

“I think a lot of people think that you need to travel thousands of miles to feel like you made an impact on the world,” Reeder said. “But honestly if you aware of the needs in your own community, it is super eye opening.”

During the holidays, more people realize the needs of people around them. Families go out and donate turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners, toys for Christmas mornings, and clothes for staying warm during the winter. For Reeder and her family, every Christmas Eve is a time to sit down together and fill boxes to their rims with special items that low income families need. Many other families gather with them at West High School and assure that the people that requested items will receive them on Christmas morning. 

“Service around the holidays when people are constantly asking for things are honestly temporary hits of happiness,” Reeder said. “Through local service, I create bonds with people and learn new things every day.”

Reeder plans to continue local service through college and ultimately plans to join the Peace Corps, a volunteer service run by the United States government.

Courtesy of Mimi Reeder
Mimi Reeder working with children on her humanitarian trip in Kenya last summer.