The Thankless Volunteer


Shoot_8Most heroes are easily picked apart from the crowd; they don’t exactly blend in. When thinking of stereotypical hero, there are many of the same traits. As far as clothing, there are capes, tights, and they always wear tee shirts with a logo on them. Heroes are also firm, steadfast and unselfish. But don’t let the physical qualities fool you; we are surrounded by all kinds of heroes every day that make our lives easier and better.

Antioch community volunteer Dawn Latakas is the current president of Sequoit Pride and Antioch Community High School’s Fine Arts support group (AMPS) here at ACHS. Latakas participated in Sequoit Pride for a total of five years—she was previously vice president—and AMPS for six years. Many students at ACHS are not aware of the dedication, hard work and planning that goes into being involved in these groups, which proves to be a lot. Latakas is in charge of and helps out with all kinds of fundraisers and events all year long.

“I started doing all these things to stay involved in my daughters’ lives and to also help out the different groups in whatever they needed help with. I do the different things that I do not just for my girls now, but I feel it is important to help and volunteer for the whole school,” said Latakas. “There are so many different opportunities to help out and make someone’s life a little easier.”

Besides AMPS and Sequoit Pride, she was very involved with the ACHS dance team for the past six years, since her two daughters were members of the team.

For AMPS alone, there are many different activities such as helping out with drama productions, a variety of different fundraisers, setting things up for concerts and organizing functions held by the group. Besides participating and running all these different tasks, Latakas also runs the meetings for AMPS and Sequoit Pride. In Sequoit Pride, Latakas helps with the spirit shop, memberships, yard signs, auctions, organizing student breakfasts during testing, teacher luncheons, organizing senior portraits and putting together the annual kick-off night of scrimmages in August.

Although Latakas has most prominently worked with Sequoit Pride and AMPS, she is not restricted to helping just these two groups. At the Electrocardiogram (EKG) screening at ACHS, Latakas entered all the data that was on the forms and helped try to get every student tested, which ended up being 95 percent. Being this dedicated to volunteering came naturally to Latakas, as she has helped out at ACHS for such a long time.

“I feel it is important to be there for your kids, which lead to being there for their friends and then just being there for the different groups that make up our school,” said Latakas.

This past year, Latakas was the recipient of the 2013-2014 Those Who Excel Excellence for a Community Volunteer award given by the Illinois State Board of Education. Due to her exceptional volunteer status, Latakas was nominated for this award in honor of all the different things that she volunteers for at ACHS. Latakas said she “really likes to help and be a part of these groups and do the different functions.”

Even though there are so many outstanding achievements that Latakas has reached, it would seem almost impossible to think that she doesn’t think of herself as a hero, but it’s true.

“No, I do not feel heroic. Many times volunteers don’t even get thanked for what they do. I do it because I like to help and I don’t mind taking on different projects that need to be organized,” said Latakas.

Although to some people it might not seem like much, every volunteer’s help goes a long way.

“No one person can do any of these different functions or events all on their own,” said Latakas. “There are lots of different volunteers within the groups that help with the different functions that go on at the school and without their help executing them, you can organize all you want, you need to have the volunteers that want and are willing to work with you and see that you are there to join in and work with them to get which ever project done that is in front of you.”

Being a volunteer for ACHS requires a lot of determination, perseverance, sacrifice and selflessness. All of these traits also happen to be characteristics of a hero, so next time you see Latakas volunteering, or any volunteer in general, make sure to thank them. Because they truly are some of ACHS’s greatest heroes.