FHHS Student Honored By City of O’Fallon for Volunteerism

Posted on 10/18/2016

The City of O’Fallon hosts an annual Volunteer Recognition Banquet, where they honor those who unselfishly give up their free time to help improve the community. But there was one awardee who was conspicuously missing – Harsha Bollepalli of Francis Howell High School (FHHS). His name was announced as the winner of the 2016 Youth Leadership Award, but Bollepalli wasn’t there. You may be able to guess what he was doing – volunteering his time somewhere else.

“Harsha began service with us in January of this year at the annual Cabin Fever Daze,” said Megan Taylor, Volunteer Services Coordinator for the City of O’Fallon. “He said he was looking for ways to give back, and was interested in volunteering for anything and everything we had available. He’s since come out to seven events, totaling over 20 hours. And he has already signed up for more events scheduled for later this year.”

Bollepalli’s hard work, responsibility, and accountability have made him an integral part of O’Fallon. His resourcefulness and dependability have made their mark, including helping with Volunteer Services and the Parks, Landscaping, Stormwater, and Tourism and Festivals Departments. And he has helped many times at the Renauld Spirit Center, assisting with youth, aquatic, and cultural arts events.

“Staff have complimented his helpful and polite nature,” Taylor said. “He’s willing to go where he’s needed and doesn’t hesitate to say yes. Harsha has become one of our ‘go-to’ volunteers.”

When O’Fallon Volunteer Services Manager Kathy Halstead announced Bollepalli as the winner of the Youth Leadership Award, she also explained that he had a prior commitment to his school’s Student Council, and that he couldn’t miss it and let his classmates down. Halstead said it exemplified his character – that he is a person everyone can count on.

Taylor gushed about Bollepalli’s dependability as well. “We know we can call on him if a position has opened up,” she said, “and know we can rely on him to be there when he says he will be there. He’s responsible, positive, has a ‘what more can I do’ attitude, and we’re very lucky to have his service.”

“Participating in the O’Fallon 9/11 Walk,” Bollepalli said, “was an emotional experience for me, and I realized I wanted to volunteer and give back to the community. After the walk, I had the opportunity to help pack care-packages for troops overseas, which made me feel good. I want to do even more.”

Bollepalli doesn’t just volunteer in O’Fallon, though. He has given his free time to tutor his fellow students in Math (as part of Mu Alpha Theta), and is highly involved in several clubs and activities at FHHS, including swimming and track, robotics, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), HOSA (a club for future health professionals), Scholar Bowl, Chemistry Club, and Viking Way (which organizes events/activities for appreciating

others, i.e., teachers). He also took part in the exclusive Washington University Camp Neuro, with the goal of becoming a psychiatrist.

“Despite all he does,” his school counselor, Darci Hillyer, said, “he never seems outwardly stressed – always upbeat. In fact, he’s involved in so much, I wonder when he sleeps. Overall, he’s a fascinating person to talk to.”

And if you’re out at an event in the City of O’Fallon, you might see Bollepalli helping make it an even better activity. Or you might see him cleaning a creek on a Saturday morning. Whatever the case, Bollepalli is involved in so much that the odds are good you’ll see him out somewhere, in his school or his community, trying to help.


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