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Seniors honored for volunteerism

RANCHO SANTA FE — As the end of the school year draws near, one organization took the time to recognize its senior members who have contributed thousands of hours of volunteer service to the community.
Teen Volunteers in Action is a Del Mar-based organization comprised of young men between seventh and 12th grades who, together with their families, participate in structured programs of volunteerism, philanthropy and personal development.
“It is through these programs that we believe these young men will grow up to become strong community leaders,” said Susan Lyon, the group’s president.
The volunteer opportunities for the teens involve active, hands-on service in the immediate San Diego County community. For more than a decade, the organization’s volunteers have been sprucing up dilapidated homes, feeding the homeless, cleaning beaches as well as other philanthropic endeavors.
The senior class of volunteers was honored with a “send-off” ceremony that included world-renowned motivational speaker John Assaraf. As he gave the keynote address, Assaraf, a highly successful entrepreneur and two-time New York Times best-selling author whose tips for success were featured in “The Secret,” imparted his wisdom to the 28 graduating seniors after breaking the ice with the younger audience.
“You become what you think about most,” he told the attendees. “When I was young I thought I was going to become a young woman,” he joked, adding that he thought mostly about girls in his youth.
As his tone become more focused and serious, the seniors and their families took note of his message.
“People who write down their goals are more likely to achieve it,” he told the standing-room only crowd at Nativity School. “Surround yourself with people who are good at the things you want to do,” he said. “Have a clarity to your goals.”
Assaraf’s goal-oriented message resonated with the young, high achievers in the room. High schools students from area schools make up the senior class of the organization. All of the young men have plans for either college or a promising career and travel.
Michael Witous is no exception. The Torrey Pines High School senior has an internship at a production company lined up for the summer before his freshman year at UCLA. “I want to explore all of my interests in college and pinpoint the area of focus that I am most passionate about,” he said. Witous also plans to study abroad.
Involvement with TVIA and the philanthropies we serve helps boys grow into leadership roles throughout their high school years,” said the organization’s president Susan Lyon. “Many of our graduates also find their service here inspires a real passion for service as they move forward into their adult lives.”
After logging in 2,000 hours of community service, each senior was congratulated not only by the organization, but also by the people they helped. “I have heard only high praise for the outstanding job that the teens and their parents accomplished,” wrote Linda Pennington, project manager for Community HousingWorks’ Operation Facelift.
A group of TVIA volunteers “definitely rose to the occasion,” according to Pennington while rehabilitating an aging residence in San Diego.
Her remarks reflected the gratitude that others share with the young men and their parents after a volunteer project is complete.