Tomorrow’s ‘Volunteers’ Learn Meaning and Value of Service

Young people train for sports, for contests of all sorts, both physical and intellectual. Jashira Bolden, 16, is training young people to become tomorrow’s volunteers.

Jashira began her own training to give of herself at the age of 8 when she began her career in fund raising.

A junior in high school and a parishioner at St. Augustine of Hippo in East St. Louis, for the past three years Jashira has coordinated a cotillion to introduce young people and encourage them to give of themselves for others to make life better for those in need.

Jashira recently announced that her organization, One Step at a Time has just received its status as a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

She has been working toward this for several years.

The cotillion — this year Oct. 24 — has become an annual fund raiser for the organization, and Jashira has donated the proceeds from the event to a number of charitable organizations, including Holy Angels Shelter and Catholic Urban Programs.

Her dream by the time she graduates from high school, her mother, Shirzell Bolden said, is to create a living facility for families who have become homeless but want to stay together.

Often, families are split up when they become homeless with the men going into one shelter and the women and children into another.

“This is her dream,” her mother said.

When asked how to describe her daughter’s generosity, her mother said: “I don’t have words to express it. It has to be God’s work; and I’m happy she’s working for the Lord.”

This year, more than a dozen young people were introduced at the cotillion, held Oct. 24 at St. Joseph School Hall, next to St. Augustine Church. A number of them belong to St. Augustine.

Among them is kindergartner Houston Gurley, the son of James and Janine Gurley, volunteers at various events in the area and deepens his faith as a member of the catechetical group at the parish.

Last year’s queen, Ja’Nae Bolden, a sister of Jashira, is in seventh grade, belongs to her school choir and is a member of the praise dancers at St. Augustine.

She has participated in St. Vincent de Paul events, including the Walk for the Poor and feeding the homeless at Thanksgiving.

Returning king, Leroy Perry Jr., is also a member of St. Augustine and a seventh-grader.

Good in mathematics, Leroy likes to help others understand math problems, but he also participates in St. Vincent de Paul events and assists on the Soup Bus when it goes out into the neighborhoods to feed the hungry.

Alexis Louise Guy, currently a high school junior, is president of St. Augustine youth group and  has received school honors while she continues to participate in St. Vincent de Paul events.

Darreon Merriwether is a freshman in high school and a good student while participating in groups like Top Teens and Top Ladies of Distinction Ambassador and Lights of Alpha organizations.

Jashira has a long list of accomplishments and recognitions, and she is in the middle of her junior year of high school.

A stand out student in high school, she also participates in parish activities at St. Augustine and is a member of the praise dancers.

Her goal, since she was 8 has been to alleviate the poverty she has seen in and around her community.

Young people have learned, through their participation in the cotillion, that giving to others offers its own reward because, even at their ages, they can and do make a difference through their service in the community.

Jashira is continuing to accept donations for this year’s cotillion.

To make a donation, please send a check made out to St. Augustine of Hippo with the notation this is for One Step at a Time and send checks to St. Augustine Church, 408 Rev. Joseph Brown Blvd., East St. Louis, Ill., 62205.