Garkisch discovers opportunities through volunteer work

By Diana Leane
Executive In-Depth Editor
Freshman Leo Garkisch has met former Bulls players Bob Love and Sidney Green, his favorite sports writer Rick Telander and multiple other sports celebrities. Garkisch met these celebrities through volunteering at a nursing home.
Originally, Garkisch started volunteering at Claremont Rehab Center in Buffalo Grove because he needed service hours for his bar mitzvah. Garkisch enjoyed visiting the elderly at the center and decided to continue volunteering after he finished his service hours.
Garkisch volunteers at the center one or two Sundays a month, depending on how many speakers were scheduled for that month. The center brings in sports stars, both famous and lesser known people, and they tell their inspirational stories to the people in the center. The speakers are usually sports stars who played professionally when the people in the center were younger.
“[The speaker’s stories] bring back sweet memories to [the people in the center] and they get really excited when they get to meet their heroes,” Garkisch said.
Garkisch’s job is to talk with the people in the center and engage them, which is something he enjoys because the older people don’t have many opportunities to talk to younger people. Besides individually volunteering his service, Garkisch has recruited friends to volunteer at the center. He has received a lot of positive feedback and support from both his friends and his parents.
“[My parents] are really supportive and they gladly drive me every time,” Garkisch said. “They are always interested to hear what the stories of the sports stars were.”
Volunteering locally allows Garkisch to spend more time helping out. He finds it easier to volunteer locally because it is easier to fit around his sports-filled schedule. At one point Garkisch and his cousin contemplated potentially going on a mission trip to Tennessee to build houses, but he wasn’t able to go due to his busy schedule.
Garkisch wants to spend more time helping out because he discovered how he enjoyed volunteering.
“I feel better about helping these people get connected to the world outside their nursing home and trying to divert them from their medical conditions,” Garkisch said.