Peelen learns non-profit work

Published 3:26 pm Saturday, July 23, 2011

Internship: Sarah Peelen, a rising senior at LakeLand High School, is in the midst of an eight-week paid internship with the James L. Camp Jr. YMCA in Franklin.

By Dale Liesch

Special to the News-Herald

Sarah Peelen has wanted to do her best to help people ever since her mother Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer.

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“Watching what she went through inspired me to help people,” Sarah said. “It pushed me to work harder for her.”

The experience taught Sarah a new life lesson.

“Everyone’s days on Earth are numbered and you need to do as much good as you can,” Sarah said.

She’s taking that lesson with her as she works through her internship at the James L. Camp Jr. YMCA in Franklin to learn all aspects of a non-profit organization with the help of Bank of America and its Student Leaders Program.

“It sounded like a really good opportunity,” Sarah said of the program. “I wanted to do something during the summer more than just sitting at home. Once I got into it I realized it was a really good program.”

In order to apply for the program, Sarah answered questions about leadership and was required to list activities and agencies in which she held a leadership role.

The rising senior at Lakeland High School has volunteered at Western Tidewater Free Clinic, participated in Anchor Club — a service organization — and was a member of the National English Honor Society, among other activities.

The daughter of Sharon and John Peelen has lent a helping hand in every department at the YMCA since starting the eight-week paid internship on June 29.

Marsha Whitehead, business director for Franklin’s YMCA, said Sarah’s extra hands are very much needed around the facility. She has done everything from filing and daily deposits to working with kids during camp activities.

“The experience has allowed her to see all aspects of a non-profit and how it works,” Whitehead said.

In addition, Sarah attended Bank of America’s Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. She said the summit was filled with fun and educational activities alike. The students heard from a variety of speakers during the trip.

Sarah said when she finishes school she would like to go into the field of pediatric oncology as a nurse practitioner.