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Susan Parmelee
Susan Parmelee

By Susan Parmelee

A huge thank you to Love San Clemente for deep-cleaning the offices of the Wellness & Prevention Center. Our staff feels healthier and more productive, thanks to all your hard work. Love San Clemente is an annual event sponsored by the faith community. The focus of Love San Clemente is supporting the nonprofits that serve our community through volunteer service projects. Community members join together to love and serve our city.

Service to community has lost some of its luster for our youth as many are now required to complete service projects for school credit, membership in honor societies and to spiff up the college entry resume. I suggest we return to encouraging youth to serve because it feels good and because volunteer time is often a great opportunity to learn more about an interest that could morph into a lifetime passion. Instilling the value that helping others is important to overall wellness and should be the inspiration for service, not getting into a top university.

So, how do we help our youth revisit the benefits of volunteering? First, we lead by example, by explaining why we attend a PTA meeting, speak at city council about a cause, or help at the local food bank. When my daughter was young, we would take a few hours every month to visit the animals at the local shelter—just sitting by their enclosures, taking a friendly puppy out to the exercise area or petting the cats and bunnies felt good and helped the animals feel better. She has a huge love for animals and walks dogs for a little extra income.

Helping teens find a place to voice their interests and good causes is another good entryway into the volunteer service world. Most of our middle and high school campuses have clubs with great causes, ranging from saving the environment to raising money for diseases and running blood drives. Try to focus on how this improves your child’s well-being and the lives of others. The environmental clubs at our local high schools have implemented sweeping changes on our school campuses by advocating at school board meetings.

The Wellness & Prevention Center hosts a youth coalition. This coalition plans and implements

strategies designed to lower youth use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This group attends trainings in Washington, D.C., learns about marketing and social media, and plans programming and policy change that benefits our entire community. The youth coalition is open to middle and high school students.

Please contact Lauren Gallegos, Wellness & Prevention’s community prevention director, at for more information.

I hope we can all reap the benefits of an engaged community. My work allows me to watch youth feel empowered by the change they create. Consider how you and your family can serve others and reap the rewards of increased wellness.

Susan Parmelee is a mental health social worker and one of the founders of the Wellness & Prevention Center, San Clemente. She can be reached at

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