Science Hill’s Boys Cross Country Team helps others to kick off the season
Published 2:27 pm Thursday, July 14, 2022
By Hannah Askew
The 33 members of the Science Hill High School’s Boys Cross Country team spent several hours Wednesday cleaning, cutting lawns and providing the muscles and hands to tackle projects at Isaiah 117 House.
Coach David Nutter brought his team to volunteer at Isaiah 117 House in Elizabethton to kick off their 2022-2023 season with a service project. The volunteer-based nonprofit provides children awaiting foster care placement with a holding location filled with physical and emotional support and comfort.
Instead of beginning the cross-country season by hitting the road running to build muscle and endurance, Nutter decided to give back to the community and lend dozens of helping hands to build a place of love.
“I love their mission, I love their vision, and I love what they stand for. For our kids to come out here and serve the greater community of Washington County and kids that are their age and kids that are younger, I just felt like it was a win-win for us and the recipients of Isaiah 117,” said Nutter.
Service projects are not new to Nutter and his group of athletes: his team completes at least two service projects each season. In past years, his teams have served at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army, but this was their first experience volunteering at Isaiah 117.
Nutter said the projects shift mindsets from personal focus to the focus of others. “In the sport of cross country, in a race, people compare themselves to each other. At a place like Isaiah 117, you’re not really comparing yourself to anybody else, but rather what you can do for others,” he said. “The focus is taken off themselves and focused on serving other people. With that comes self-satisfaction and self-gratification, because when you serve others, you’re also a recipient of that service.”
Mick Stokes, an upcoming junior at Science Hill, echoed Nutter’s comments. “I feel good about myself when volunteering, and it has the same effect on everybody else. Doing good things for people makes you feel like a better person,” Stokes said. “While we’re out here working and helping the community, we’re also cracking jokes and getting to know each other better.”
Corey Payne, a volunteer with Isaiah 117, said she was grateful for the boys serving and stressed the importance of humanizing the trauma of the children the program serves. “We always say that we love kids helping other kids. That’s one of the things we love the most about having volunteer groups. Being able to let the boys know that there are kids from their own school who have entered this house, who have experienced the pain of being removed and the trauma that comes with it. Being able to put a face on that for these boys is always really important to us,” Payne said.
Another volunteer, Jody Hayes, shared her love and acceptance for children. “I’ve always had a love for children, and understood that children just need a lot of love, and that’s what we try to supply here. They’re all God’s children, no matter their circumstances,” said Hayes.