Crystal Ferreira has already earned more than 1,200 community service hours and she’s only a junior at Palmer Trinity.
“I first started doing my community service with a non-kill pet shelter,” she says. “They would show the dogs to get them adopted. I would go every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. I’d walk them.”
She became involved after going to PetSmart and seeing a tee shirt saying they were looking for volunteers. She filled out the application and worked not only at PetSmart showing the dogs, but also at the shelter in Homestead.
“I went my friend. We went down and we cleaned up with a hose and a broom,” she says. “We gave them fresh water and fresh food. We played with them and put them back in. I went there twice.”
Ferreira says she thinks 20 to 30 dogs were adopted in the year that she worked with the shelter.
“Most were puppies, but there were older dogs,” she says. “There were older ones that had been at the shelter for a long time. There were trained to be able to handle themselves at the PetSmart.”
But Ferreira has devoted even more time to the Palmer Trinity Athletic Department, working as an assistant to the trainer.
“Our main focus at the beginning of the year is football,” she says. “We’d go to all the away games and all the games here.”
If an athlete is injured, Ferreira helps by icing the injury or wrapping a sprained ankle or elbow. She and a friend attend all baseball, softball, basketball, lacrosse, volleyball and track events.
She became interested in becoming a trainer while taking a weight training class. After class, she and a friend would talk to the trainer and volunteered to help at games.
Ferreira understands athletic injuries since she played basketball until this year. She is taking the year off because her brother warned her that junior year is tough and she might struggle if she tried to do too much. She may return to the team for her senior year.
When her brother was a student at Palmer, he started a club called Students Assisting Veterans.
“We would send letters to veterans at VA hospital,” she says, adding that she did that from eighth grade until her sophomore year when the club ended. “We sent money to the hospital for any improvements, anything that needed to be replaced.”
Club members also collected toiletries for veterans.
“We would put them into Ziploc bags and put it into decorative bags,” she says. “We had Ziploc bag filled with shampoo, toothbrushes. We all went and we took it downtown (to the VA hospital).”
The club disbanded a year after her brother graduated.
This year she’s in the Second Chance Club, a club dedicated to saving dogs who are in shelters.
“They have several fundraisers,” she says. “We go to shelters and we’ll walk the dogs.”
Ferreira also volunteers at church and participates on trips to feed the homeless at the homeless shelter.
As a member of the student government as a freshman, she also went to the homeless shelter to feed the homeless.
With all of her experiences in helping both animals and student athletes, Ferreira is mulling over whether she should become an athletic trainer or a veterinarian.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld