Volunteer leader, youth role model motivated by simple things


Kailey Krzoska portraitSimple things – like helping a student understand a concept they had struggled with during tutoring sessions, boosting the spirits of a teammate or bringing a smile to the face of a nursing home resident struggling with isolation – continually drive Kailey Krzoska.
 
For the past few years, the 18-year-old rural Appleton (Town of Buchanan) resident and senior at Kimberly High School has been on a mission to help others and benefit her community. For taking on and embracing leadership roles as a volunteer, Kailey has been chosen to receive the 2021 Celebrating Volunteers’ Youth Scholarship Award sponsored by Community First Credit Union.
 
The daughter of Julie and Matt Krzoska will receive a $1,500 scholarship and $1,000 for the charity of her choice. Community First has awarded the scholarship since 1998 as part of the annual Celebrating Volunteers initiative co-sponsored by the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and NBC26-TV.
 
I just want to make a small impact every day on different people’s lives,” said Kailey, who has created three different community service projects. “I’ve always been passionate about educating and leading others. That’s kind of what drove me to develop these service projects in my community.”
 

Leadership Journey

Kailey recalls being a freshman and jumping at opportunities to volunteer with several organizations. But she soon realized she wasn’t making much of an impact.
 
Near the end of her sophomore year, she developed the ‘Teens with Youth Sports Day’ where younger students had an opportunity to hang out with high school student-athletes.
Kailey Krzosk imagesThis was really the start of my true leadership journey,” she said. “The goal of it was to strengthen community bonds. When I was younger, high-schoolers were like the coolest people ever. I thought, ‘What if we could give elementary school students an experience to really hang out with high schoolers for the day and learn from them and grow with them?’ I wanted to give students that experience.
 
Just over a year ago, COVID-19 relegated the Teens with Youth Sports Day to a one-time event but Kailey would not be deterred. She and classmate Lily Peerenboom started a monthly book club for student leaders in Grades 5 and 6 called Beyond the Books that includes discussions, games and activities revolving around the book. The primary purpose is to encourage students to love reading and to develop their leadership skills,” Kailey said.
 
Her most recent initiative, called ‘Boxes of Joy,’ involves “putting together care packages for nursing home residents to bring a little joy into their lives throughout the ongoing pandemic, which has left many residents in isolation.” She has assembled 20 boxes – each containing a book, gratitude journal, coloring book, colored pencils and a hand-written note – soon bound for Brewster Village as well as a few family and friends “who need a pick-me-up,” she said.
 
Her nominator, Emma Kane, who is Kailey’s club volleyball coach and mentor, describes her as “a phenomenal human being. She is kind, caring, down-to-earth and incredibly hard-working. Any organization where Kailey is involved is better off. Any person who has gotten to know Kailey is most positively influenced.”
 
As a junior, Kailey used a Sean Covey book (7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens) to lead peer conversations about important life skills such as time management, handling conflict and being positive. She has also taken an active role in preventing teen tobacco use through the Community Action for Healthy Living and the Wisconsin Wins program. Kailey volunteered to assist in tobacco law compliance inspections of local retailers and used that experience to spread the truth about tobacco through community outreach and education.
 
I’m pretty optimistic about things in life,” said Kailey, who is planning to attend UW-Stevens Point to pursue an elementary education degree. “Obviously not everything works out the way we want, but I always say that there’s good in everything, you just have to find it.”
 
Unique combination
Her positive energy and approach to life makes her a natural leader in the classroom, during volunteer projects and on the volleyball court/softball field. She contributes to a synergistic effect with any team she is on – the whole is greater than the individual parts because they are focused and work together.
 
“Being a good teammate is not only how you play but also picking up your teammates, noticing how they’re feeling and responding to their feelings in a way that will be beneficial to the team as well,” said Kailey, who has been a four-year member of Lifeforce, Key Club, Young Women in the Community as well as being actively involved in her church community.
 
Three years ago, she joined the United Way Fox Cities Youth Board. Kailey has designated her $1,000 donation to the Youth Board, where she has served as a co-leader the past two years.
 
Kailey is a unique combination of determination and compassion,” said Mandi Dornfeld, Youth Board Advisor/United Way Fox Cities. “She will often push the group forward but does it in a way that is accepted and appreciated by leadership. Kailey is not afraid to speak up and take charge and get the job done. She is always willing to give of her time and talents to those around her.”
 
Kailey credits her parents for their unqualified support, compassion, inspiration and encouragement.
 
She also enjoys making a difference as an academic ambassador or “peer tutor” at the high school. “I absolutely love seeing concepts click within kids,” Kailey said.
 
The driving force for me to (volunteer) is my faith,” said Kailey. “Volunteering is a way for me to serve Christ and help others to come to Christ. That’s a really important part of who I am.”
 
Celebrating Volunteers Honorees
During National Volunteer Week April 18-24, Celebrating Volunteers is introducing its six award recipients via feature stories. See video features by Celebrating Volunteers’ co-sponsor NBC26-TV and a feature story by The Post-Crescent (media sponsor).

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