03/10/10 — Teen appointed to state panel on volunteers

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Teen appointed to state panel on volunteers

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on March 10, 2010 1:46 PM

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Michael Atkins Jr.

Pikeville resident Michael J. Atkins Jr. has become the youngest person ever appointed to the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. He was appointed to the commission recently by Gov. Beverly Purdue and became one of 15 new and 10 reappointed commissioners in the group.

Rep. Efton Sager administered the oath of office to Atkins. Each commissioner serves three years.

The 19-year-old freshman at North Carolina State University applied for the position after he was recommended for the commission by the state 4-H office. Atkins participated in the Wayne County 4-H program for many years before going to college.

He was excited about the possibility of being appointed to the commission even before he applied.

"I've always been really enthusiastic about volunteer work and community service," Atkins said. "When I got the offer to submit my resume, I was extremely enthusiastic about the opportunity.

"It's a commission established with a government office and is part of the government. It has the ability and resources to make a significant difference in North Carolina. I'm more than happy to be a part of the process and commission itself in getting the word out across the state."

The commission's purpose is to encourage and recognize community service and volunteer participation as a means of community and state problem solving. Its goals are to increase volunteerism across the state, energize and recruit people 50 and older to volunteer and recruit and place mentors and volunteers in the schools.

Atkins said he wants to spread volunteerism throughout the state. The commission is directly affiliated with AmeriCorps, and one of Atkins' objects, from a youth's perspective, is to establish a relationship between AmeriCorps and other organizations such as 4-H to create a larger network of volunteerism that encompasses more people.

"One thing the commission does is receive applications from nonprofit organizations for grants from an annual budget," Atkins said. "It currently has 12 nonprofits it gives grants to in the state. One of the things I'll be doing is going to one of the nonprofits currently receiving grants to see how it's operating and if it's meeting the goals and objectives as far as volunteerism goes."

To expand volunteerism, Atkins will be on a committee for public relations and marketing.

"I will try and establish connections between different organizations that do volunteer work and do public service announcements and ads in the newspapers," Atkins said. "And not only spread the idea of AmeriCorps and other community service projects, but also introduce people to the idea of volunteerism in general."

He sees volunteerism as part of what is improving society and getting Americans through the tough times in today's slow economy.

Atkins is the son of Michael and Tracy Atkins of Pikeville. He is a member of the Thomas Jefferson Scholars program at North Carolina State University, with a double major. His first is in biological sciences with a concentration in human biology and his second is in political science with a concentration in law and theory -- basically pre-med and pre-law studies.

He hopes his appointment to the commission will be the first of many oaths of office he'll take in the future.

"I plan on becoming president of the United States in 2028," he said. "That's the first year I will be the correct age in an election year."