Building Smilies

. November 26, 2014.

Every Tuesday morning, 14-year-old Michael Friese of Findlay heads out the door to work on building smiles. Friese is a volunteer at Birchaven Village Nursing Home and works weekly with assigned residents in the Alzheimer’s wing. “It makes me feel special because I am one of the only ‘kids’ that is doing this,” Friese said. Friese began his volunteer work in November 2012 when he was in the middle of working on his “Disability Awareness” Merit Badge for Boy Scouts. He chose this elective badge because he could identify with the work involved to earn it. “I myself have asthma and a couple of others in my troop had disabilities,” said Friese. “I thought it would be good for me.” Michael spends his volunteer time with residents participating in interactive activities such as tossing balloons or daily group exercises. “I get to see a lot of smiles,” Friese said with plans for a future career as a construction worker, he is learning valuable basic skills from his volunteer experience and would encourage others to do the same. “It is helping me develop leadership and responsibility skills,” he said. “It is also helping teach me to be kind and to relate to people.”