Casa Grande High School sophomore Rachel Hess plays with a cat at Petaluma’s animal shelter. On Mondays, she helps out at Mentor Me. Photo by Aimee Drew of Casa Grande High School

Many busy high school students believe they do not have time <NO1><NO>to spare for volunteering, but Casa Grande High School sophomore Rachel Hess’ passion for helping others has caused her to volunteer for two different organizations.
Hess helps at the animal shelter where she cares for pets that do not have homes. On Mondays, she also helps with paperwork at Mentor Me, an organization that offers tutoring to struggling students.
“It’s nice to do something for someone else,” Hess said.
Although Hess does not have a regular schedule for volunteering at the animal shelter, she often uses her free time to care for the pets.
“I like to spend time with animals,” she said. “I see how happy they get when someone plays with them.”
Hess prefers spending time with the kittens when she volunteers at the shelter.
“Kittens are fun to play with and are sweet,” she said. “I sometimes spend time with the dogs, but I mostly like playing with the cats, since dogs typically get more attention from other volunteers, and I have a dog at home.”
By playing with the animals who have not found a family to care for them, Hess helps the pets adjust to being with people. She coaxes the less friendly cats into enjoying her company.
“One kitten would bite and scratch me. First I thought she didn’t like me, but she eventually started playing with me,” Hess said, recalling a memorable pet from the shelter.
Hess appreciates volunteering at the animal shelter and the opportunity she has to help the pets.
“Animals are important to me, and I think they should be taken care of,” she said.
Outside of the shelter, Hess’ involvement at Mentor Me allows her to volunteer her time while working independently and maintaining a regular schedule.
“I do paperwork, make copies and organize binders for the volunteers who tutor there,” she said. “Mostly retired people help kids with school and homework.”
Hess began helping at Mentor Me because of a project in her Human Interaction class that required her to volunteer for 10 hours. She continued helping the organization even after she finished her needed hours.
“Mentor Me is different from something I would have chosen,” she said. “I would have chosen a more hands-on job.”
Nevertheless, her parents’ involvement with the charity encouraged her to work for Mentor Me.
“My dad has donated money to Mentor Me, and my mom works at COTS (Committee on the Shelterless). Kids who live there sometimes get tutored at Mentor Me,” she said.
Even though Hess originally would have preferred a volunteer job that was less focused on paperwork, she has come to appreciate the environment at Mentor Me.
“I pretty much just work on my own,” she said. “It’s nice to do something on your own to help others.”
Hess realizes her volunteering has given her valuable experience. She has improved herself by offering her time to others.
“Volunteering helps me work better with others,” she said.
Hess hopes to continue working for both organizations until she graduates from high school.
“It’s really good for people to help. You start to notice how many people need your help,” she said. “It’s nice to spend your extra time helping others instead of doing everything for yourself.”