BY AMY HILL
While most teenagers spend their free time hanging out with friends, playing sports, or taking naps, 16-year-old Grayson Weavil spends her free time helping others. A junior at East Forsyth High School, Grayson has always had a passion for volunteer work and giving back. Being involved in her youth group and having a strong faith has instilled in her that it is important for youth to get involved in giving back to their community because it inspires their peers to follow suit.
When Grayson started high school, she began volunteering at Next Step Ministries Thrift Store, located in Kernersville, where she assisted with sorting donations and tagging and organizing clothes. The Thrift Store supports women and children victimized by domestic violence, with sales from the store being given to the local safe house, which houses around 11 women and children. In October 2020, Grayson had a desire to expand on her volunteer work and take on a larger project. She applied for mini grants promoting youth-led community projects sponsored by the Youth Engagement Coalition (YEC) and The Office of Civic & Community Engagement at Wake Forest University. After she was awarded a $250 grant, she purchased a rolling storage cart filled with craft and art supplies, paper, and a desk lamp (just to name a few) for the children’s homework center at the Next Step Ministries safe house. In January 2021, she reorganized and stocked the homework space, and painted a canvas for the children that read “Create.” This project was particularly meaningful to Grayson because the women and children use the art supplies as a creativity outlet at the safe house. According to Grayson, “It brings the women and children a sense of normalcy, and many of the residents are excellent artists.”
If that’s not impressive enough, Grayson serves as Vice President of Leading Ladies, a service club at East Forsyth High School, which recently hosted a food drive in November 2020. While COVID-19 has prevented many service projects from being completed, as of press time, generous donors have provided funds to purchase a desk and additional craft supplies for the Next Step safe house to the Leading Ladies. [All monetary donations to the Next Step safe house are used for the benefit of the women and children in the house and are tax deductible. Please go to nextstepdv.org for more information on giving.]
With school, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities such as dancing for the East Forsyth High School Eaglettes and the Triple Threat Dance Center, how does Grayson juggle such a packed schedule at just 16 years old? Fortunately for Grayson and the community, she finds volunteer work extremely rewarding. For as long as she can remember, she has had a drive to excel and be the best version of herself possible. She attributes her ability to handle so much responsibility at a young age to her stable home life and the supportive family and friends in her corner. She has been exposed to more volunteer opportunities through her work and is currently discovering other grants that she could use to give back in the future. Grayson explains, “I have been blessed and should use my blessings as opportunities to help others.”
Although she is wise beyond her years, Grayson also engages in normal teenage activities such as binge watching Grey’s Anatomy, shopping at Marshalls and TJ Maxx with her friends and her mom, and dining at the Cheesecake Factory. When international travel is no longer a pipe dream, Grayson and her friends hope to travel to Santorini, Greece, to take in the beautiful culture and scenery. After high school, Grayson hopes to attend a four-year university to major in a science-based field such as biochemistry, and ultimately aspires to attend dental or pharmacy school. Throughout her involvement with Next Step, she has had the opportunity to research domestic violence and has been astounded by how many cases are reported in Forsyth County. While in college, she plans to find additional opportunities to continue her volunteer work with Next Step Ministries.