Joliet Job Corps Center

Volunteering for Special Olympics Illinois

June 30th, 2016

Right to left in photos: Vanessa, Nathan Lopez and Karissa.

Karissa Bearce likes to volunteer.

“It makes me feel good about myself,” she said.

So she went to the Homewood-Flossmoor Racquet club on June 17 with Social Development Director Alicia Grangent to lend a hand at the Special Olympics Illinois Tennis Tournament. Four other students went too: Latreal Pinkney, Nathan Lopez, Vanessa Johnson and Maque Mullen. They were going to work as retrievers, grabbing loose balls during the matches.

Ms. Grangent has a real interest in the Special Olympics program. She’s spent several years volunteering and coaching for the organization. Karissa also has a history with Special Olympics Illinois. Ryan Bearce, her older brother, was a Special Olympics athlete when he was 16. “I went to some of his matches,” Karissa said. Ryan competed in the 400-yard dash and other sports. So for her, the trip to the racquet club was more than an opportunity to do some good.

“It reminded me of what I used to do for my brother,” Karissa said. “We used to play tennis together too – I’m just not very good at it!”

It also was a perfect volunteer oppor-tunity for Vanessa. She played tennis and badminton during her sophomore and junior years at Crete-Monee High School.

“I enjoyed the men’s doubles match,” Vanessa said. “I like it that people with physical disabilities get a chance to play the sport.”

And it was the perfect opportunity for her to give back to the community.

“I like helping people. That is what I am all about,” Vanessa said.