The Thornapple Kellogg High School senior has a heart and passion for helping others and helping make her community a better place is what earned her the Barry County United Way Youth Volunteer of the Year award.
Dickman said she was shocked when her name was called for the honor. “It just makes you feel good to do something to help someone else. It has never been about getting an honor or recognition and it never will be. I do it because I want to leave an impact on my community and help make a difference.”
She credits her parents, Holli and Jeff, for instilling a desire to help others. “They raised me to always give back and to help where I can. I also have an older brother (Sam) who I always looked up to. He really inspired me to be involved and I just always wanted to be as involved in things as he was.”
She has been a member of the Youth Advisory Council of the Barry Community Foundation since she was in eighth grade. She served as president this year and last year as the grant chairperson.
In addition to being in YAC, she is a member of the TKHS National Honor Society, Student Council and teacher cadet program. Her high school activities include being in the musicals, honors choir, mental wellness club, Young Life, Close Up trip to Washington D.C., student section leader, and Kent ISD student leadership.
“It’s been fun and a great four years. I’ve been really involved and able to meet so many people I wouldn’t otherwise get to know.”
Of all her volunteer efforts, Dickman said the annual Barry County toy drive is probably her favorite. “It’s just amazing to see all the toys and clothing donated to help families. We go through and help sort it all out and you know you are just helping in a small way for some kid out there to have something for the holidays - some family who can’t afford gifts. It’s eye opening for me. It makes me feel good to be able to help because I know it will make the kids feel good,” she said.
Dickman said anyone can be a volunteer or help make an impact in their community. “You don’t have to make a giant difference; every small difference matters just as much. And anyone can do it.”
She reminded fifth-grade students of that same message as she helped teach them about philanthropy through the Circle of Giving project. Dickman said she remembers when she was in fifth grade and high school students came to talk to her classes through Circle of Giving.
“That’s probably one of the first experiences I really had with volunteering, and we were able to bring in money to give to an organization. And this year, I was one of those older kids who talked to the fifth graders. Hopefully I’ve inspired at least one of them,” she said.
With her passion for helping others, Dickman plans to attend Hope College next year to study to become a child life specialist and work in a hospital setting. “I want to be that face for the kids and families to help them feel safe and help make what they’re going through a little easier,” she said.
She doesn't plan to give up volunteering any time soon either. “I want to be involved in my community as much as I can wherever I am,” she said.
Dickman said she hopes she has inspired others. “Even if I inspired just one person to be a volunteer, that would be great. Just one person is all it takes to start a chain reaction of good.”