PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Boys & Girls Club of Presque Isle will soon say goodbye to VISTA volunteer April Thurman, who will complete her year of service with the club on Aug. 17.
Club coordinator Fenton Jones said he was impressed with how well Thurman, a 19-year-old California native, endeared herself to the club and the Micmac and Presque Isle community.
“April has made friends and touched hearts wherever she has gone, especially among the youth at the Club,” Jones said. “The youth say they will miss her smile and her compassion most of all. Some of the youth have declared she can’t leave unless they go with her.”
A year ago, Thurman came to Presque Isle as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service to America) under the auspices of the Corporation for National and Community Service. VISTA volunteers undergo a short but intense training session to prepare them to serve their new community. They must endure the same hardship as the poorest in the community they serve.
“She did it without a single complaint,” Jones said. “So pause the next time you want to complain about today’s youth because April is just one of thousands of young people who choose to serve their nation by working on behalf of the most vulnerable among us.”
While in the area, Thurman has organized multiple blood drives, worked on club fundraisers, kept social media for the club up to date and contributed wherever she was needed.
Thurman’s 3,000-plus-mile trip was a big step out of her comfort zone, but club officials said she didn’t let the Maine winter nor the requirement to live on a below-poverty-level income for the year discourage her. She will have pleasant memories of the people and places of Aroostook, of the friends she made and the good she accomplished.
Thurman’s future plans include a long visit with her parents and two sisters and then possibly another term of service with VISTA before she continues her education. She hopes to secure a position closer to home in Sacramento or maybe Seattle, where she also has family.