April 2, 2020

A Mission To Help Others

Tanner Heath grew up in Markesan, Wisconsin—population just over 1,400. Despite the city’s relatively small size, he was always able to find ways to keep himself busy. Tanner started volunteering at the age of twelve. As a member of National Mutual Benefit, his grandmother encouraged him to take part in several branch events, including dressing up as the Easter Bunny for Easter egg hunts! Tanner had a lot of fun at these social events and started to realize the positive impact he could have on the lives of others.

According to Tanner, one of his most memorable volunteer experiences was a mission trip he took with his church group to Atlanta. While there, he and other volunteers served at a center in an impoverished inner-city community where adults would drop their kids off so they could apply for jobs. At first, Tanner thought the kids (who were similar in age) wouldn’t have any interest in being supervised by a group of “outsiders.” Much to his surprise and joy, once they made a plan, the kids started warming up and the group had a blast! Aside from their time spent at the center, the volunteer group helped at a community garden by weeding all of the flower beds and harvesting fruits and vegetables.

Tanner with group on mission trip.

Tanner is proud to have been a part of several mission trips. Not long after a devastating hurricane left massive flooding throughout Houston, Texas, his church banded together to help with relief efforts in the city. When visiting with families directly affected by the tragedy, most of the Houston residents were in tears while expressing appreciation for the generosity shown by complete strangers. When asked why he continues to volunteer under challenging circumstances, Tanner explained that he is positively impacted by seeing people’s reactions to volunteers lending a helping hand. He said, “Once a job is done, it’s cool to step back and see everything you’ve accomplished… and it’s nice to see people enjoy what others are doing.”

In high school, Tanner was also selected to be a volunteer camp counselor, where he was responsible for a group of six kids over four days. It was a challenge at first, but once he got to know the personality of each individual, he quickly adjusted to his role. The week included fun activities such as kayaking, inflatable obstacle courses, and team-building exercises. When a band came out to entertain the group, Tanner even participated by playing bass guitar. According to Tanner, the entire experience helped him become more social, and he really enjoyed it.

Tanner in Houston, Texas for refugee event.As a college student at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, Tanner will be majoring in chemistry and pre-engineering with the hopes of transferring to UW-Madison. His dream is to work for the state as a civil engineer.

We have no doubt Tanner will reach his goals. Jennifer Seggerman, ELCA Youth Ministry Director at St. Stephen’s Church, shares the same sentiment. She explained, “Tanner is admired and respected among his peers and adults alike. He has always been responsible, dedicated, and compassionate. When Tanner commits to something, he can be expected to succeed.” Congratulations on being named 2019’s President’s High School Scholarship Winner, Tanner, and best of luck in your future endeavors!


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