Milford JOI members give back to their community


Mrs. Heather Lutz

Juniors Emily Hilliard and Ayla Jednacz raise money for those in need during bell ringing outside of the Milford Kroger.

Madison Curtis, Assistant Editor

JOI welcomes all individuals and doesn’t require an application. Also known as Junior Optimist International, JOI is a service-oriented club that encourages young adults to get involved in their community through organized volunteer activities.

Milford High School teacher Heather Lutz has sponsored the club since its establishment during the 2017-18 school year. The meetings, which occur in Room 108 once a month, consist of snacks, an ice breaker and discussions about upcoming volunteer opportunities and activities.

Seniors Abbie Hess and Gigi Gondoly head the student-led organization. As President of the club, Hess has the responsibility of coordinating with other clubs and MHS members to organize volunteer activities. Furthermore, Vice President Gondoly is responsible for creating fliers and announcements about upcoming meetings and events.

Gondoly originally “joined JOI as a fluke” after tagging along with some friends she saw heading to a meeting. “In that first meeting, I was immediately met with a super open, welcoming atmosphere, and I’ve happily attended every meeting since,” said Gondoly. JOI provides students with a safe space to meet new people while giving them the opportunity to give back to their community.

Similarly, Hess stated, “It is a family that helps to innovate and drive change in the community, and a place where people of all walks of life can feel included, important, and be involved!”

JOI appeals to all students, regardless of grade, GPA, gender, and availability. Lutz emphasized the club’s flexibility through their once-a-month meetings and a multitude of volunteer opportunities that fit students’ schedules. Gondoly added, “…JOI is truly a club for anyone. There are no required service hours and all volunteer opportunities are completely optional.”

In previous years, students have volunteered at Muir’s glow dance, a Special Olympics basketball tournament, and various YMCA events. Also, there are many upcoming events this school year, including bell ringing for Salvation Army in December and peer resistance training in January.

Not only is JOI a great way to connect to your community, but it also benefits members as well. “[JOI] is a nice way to log some volunteer hours if you are looking to join NHS in the future or want to improve your resume before college,” stated Lutz. College admissions officers look for applicants who display commitment and selflessness. Setting aside time to connect with individuals in the community differentiates a student from other applicants and makes them a more alluring candidate.

Most importantly, JOI benefits the Milford/Highland community and surrounding areas. Volunteering connects hard-working students with individuals they otherwise would not have met. “This in return helps to benefit our community through the ability of our members to display and use [leadership, innovation, acceptance, assertiveness, inclusivity, and optimism], as well as helping to serve our community’s citizens!” said Hess.

Looking back on their favorite volunteering experiences, Hess and Gondoly recounted the same memory: peer resistance training. “…we were able to go to five of the elementary schools in Huron Valley and teach their 5th-grade classes about how to be assertive and say no to peer pressure dealing with bullying, drugs, and alcohol,” described Hess. Gondoly added, “After the presentations, we received a lot of positive feedback from the teachers…Because of this success, we will be holding a similar training program again this year.”

JOI presents students with the opportunity to collect service hours, while simultaneously giving back to the community and teaching important life skills that are helpful in future academic and career endeavors. If you are interested in joining the JOI club, stop by room 108 or contact Lutz with any questions.