Sandra Gates is calm amid the whirlwind of activity generated by nearly 100 children, some chattering, others running despite being warned it’s against the rules.
“Walking, Kaylee,” she gently but firmly reminds a child.
It’s a typical day for the summer program operated by the Ukiah Boys and Girls Club at the Alex Rorabaugh Recreation Center on South State Street, where Gates, a 16-year-old Ukiah High School student, volunteers.
“Usually the kids are really active all day,” she said.
The Boys and Girls Club offers a variety of activities at the recreation center, which has a gymnasium and separate rooms in which children can read, watch movies or play with toys and video games from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Gates has been volunteering at the center for two years.
“I love volunteering. I’ve always loved kids,” she said.
She has an apparent knack for keeping them in line without getting flustered.
“Kids aren’t as complicated as you’d think,” Gates said.
Her dedication and competence has won her praise from the program’s overseers.
“She’s amazing. If she was old enough, I’d probably hire her,” said Edith Andrews, director of the Boys and Girls Club volunteer program.
Gates enjoys the work but has other plans for the future. She hopes to join the military and study to become a battlefield doctor, a plan she developed after talking to a military recruiter.
“Medicine has just become this new dream of mine,” she said.
Gates hadn’t been taking a lot of science courses previously but is now shifting gears and adding them to her schedule next year, when she’ll be a junior.
“I’m really excited,” she said.
Gates said regardless of what she does, she will at some point serve in the military, following in the footsteps of an older brother.
“He kind of inspired me to join,” she said.
Gates has many interests, including history, yoga, softball and wrestling. She was on her school’s softball team her freshman year and wrestling team as a sophomore.
“I love it,” she said.
Gates’ accomplishments are despite having a dysfunctional family. She’s currently living in a foster home.
“Some kids use that as an excuse to misbehave. She has turned it around and really set some goals for herself,” Andrews said.
“I think if she applies herself, she can do anything,” said foster parent Dana Hunt.
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lives with: Foster parents, Dana Hunt and Carmen Harris
What music she is listening to: all kinds, including Beatles, Imagine Dragons, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, Doors, Bastille and OneRepublic
Favorite hobby: Reading
Dream job: Military physician
Favorite TV show: The Vampire Diaries
Favorite food: Sushi
Quote: 'The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.' — Brian Tracy