Bright Future: Volunteering helps Vidalia senior find way to career

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Gabby Morace sits on one of the tables she painted at Vidalia High School. (leah Schwarting / The Natchez Democrat)

Gabby Morace sits on one of the tables she painted at Vidalia High School. (leah Schwarting / The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — When Gabby Morace, 17, goes off to college next year, she’ll have four solid years of volunteering with the Vidalia High School Key Club under her belt — and she doesn’t plan on quitting any time soon.

The VHS senior was inspired to join the club her freshman year by some of her older friends, who were already members.

Since then, Morace has volunteered a minimum of 20 hours a year for organizations such as the Natchez Stewpot, Habitat for Humanity and Operation Christmas Child. She’s also painted benches and tables around VHS and helped clean up the school.

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Even in the classroom advanced placement European history teacher Andy Davis said Morace is the first to volunteer to lead group projects.

“She just gets learning,” Davis said. “She has a desire to learn.”

Her favorite event is the Ellis Laine Malone Foundation Annual Fun Run, at which Key Club members have done tasks such as making signs to mark the route, directing runners and handing out hot chocolate.

Malone is a Vidalia resident who was born with Apert Syndrome in 2012. The disorder causes premature fusion and development of her bones.

The run helps Malone’s family, and other families in which a member has Apert Syndrome, with medical needs.

“It’s something that’s oriented on someone from our town, and it’s nice to see our town come together for our people,” Morace said.

When she’s done volunteering, all of her hours have to be logged to earn her stole for graduation.

But Morace isn’t just keeping track of her hours. Her club has approximately 30 students involved and, as secretary, she has to keep track of all of them too.

She feels it’s much more difficult than the two years she served as vice-president, since she has to keep track of everything, including absences.

“I have a whole folder,” Morace said. “It’s just crazy.”

And, for good measure, she keeps a back-up version on her computer.

“For a 17-year-old it’s impressive she can balance things the way she does,” Davis said.

But, for all of the work, the job isn’t without its perks.

“It’s actually being secretary this year that’s made me want to be in a business field, because I’ve realized I can be organized and in charge of things,” she said.

Morace said she is considering pursuing a marketing degree after graduation, although she hasn’t decided on a college yet.

She wants to stay in Key Club in college, which is called Circle K. It’s because of Key Club, she said, that she appreciates what she has.

“I have my health, I have a home and I have food, and volunteering really shows you that some people don’t have that,” Morace said.

Morace is the daughter of Mathus Waller and Katrina Tarver.