By Cheryl Van Tuyl Jividen
Plato is often attributed to the notion that necessity is the mother of invention and that’s exactly what spurred Lori Hodo and her daughters Hannah and Grace to create the Boerne Student Organization (BSO) three years ago. After moving to Boerne from her native Houston four years ago, Lori was looking for information on volunteer opportunities. “There didn’t seem to be any one person or group that could tell us about many other volunteer opportunities besides what they knew of in their own circumference of life. It seemed as if everyone had to research on their own all that was out there.” Recognizing that need, the Hodo’s jumped into action. “My daughters and I created BSO so there would be an organization that would create a passion for serving others, include all area high schoolers (not just a certain school), provide leadership opportunities and be a one-stop resource where you could volunteer with many different organizations. We based it on Galatians 5:13-14 – . . . serve one another in love…”
With a modest goal of 20 – 25 students the first year, Hodo was thrilled to have 130 sign up. This school year membership hovers around 100. Open to any high school student, the group includes students from Champion, Boerne, Geneva, TMI, Bracken Christian and for the first time, home schoolers. Hodo couldn’t be more pleased. “I love that it is one group with all these different schools involved as there doesn’t seem to be many chances for area kids to be in the same group all together.”
Student members can serve in a variety of ways to meet their suggested 25 volunteer hours each school year. The group to-date has provided 2,378 volunteer hours including support of the Patrick Heath Public Library community events, the I Am Second Fun Run, school carnivals, professional artists events, Hill Country Animal League pet adoptions, Sam’s Kids backpack stuffing, various PTO events, cotillion dances, church fundraising dinners and the Boerne Parks and Recreation’s Easter Egg Hunt. “It is nice to see organizations return asking for our students’ help at their events because they were pleased with them in the past,” Hodo says. The group also supports donation drives for organizations such as the San Antonio Children’s Hospital, Blessings in a Backpack, the homeless ministry organization Taking It To The Streets and the Hill Country Pregnancy Care Center.
BSO is student-led and there are many opportunities for members to chair an event, coordinating logistics and interfacing with event leadership. Hodo’s children are leaders themselves; daughter Hannah was the BSO president its inaugural year, Grace, a senior, serves as the current president, and freshman son Douglas is t-shirt chair. Middle school son Hayden will participate in the future. The students can choose their involvement in the group, says Hodo. “Their participation level is their choice, whether it is to just list on their resume or if they catch fire for serving others, we are just honored that anyone would care to join and help our little idea become a reality.”
Recognizing students are well served for college admissions by logging volunteer hours, Hodo hopes they also develop perspective. “The (organization’s) premise was to create a desire to serve others and put others before yourself. Hopefully, it will instill a heart for service in these kids that will continue way into their adulthood that in turn, they can pass along to their kids. Maybe one specific event would spark an interest to a student that they might want to pursue in college in terms of studying or volunteering or eventually a career in that area, or chairing an event provides skills and confidence they need to put themselves in more positions of leadership in school or their youth group. We don’t take any credit for that happening — we just provide an outlet where possibly a seed is planted. The student’s desire takes over and they grow personally because of that experience they had.”
Both as the founder and as a citizen, Hodo is honored by what the BSO and its members are accomplishing. “It’s cool to see kids sign up, wear their t-shirt around town, see them in action at events and get kind feedback from these organizations. I am extremely proud and impressed with these students and their eagerness to get involved and serve — their parents should be proud of them and I hope the community is appreciative of their efforts, too.”