Article written by Nancy Diamond, Oak Harbor High School
Kevin Davis, a resident of Summer Hill Assisted Living, is no stranger to Oak Harbor High School. For nine years, Davis worked in the Special Education Transitions department, assisting post-high school special education students. One of his duties was to drive students in the school van to their job sites. “He was well liked by staff and students. His daughter Holly was in the Transitions program,” said Jessica Mansikka, Davis’ co-worker starting in 2009.
Photos credit: Nancy Diamond, Oak Harbor High School
Unfortunately, Davis experienced a stroke a few years ago, making him unable to continue his work at the high school. But that didn’t dissuade him from wanting to be at school with students and a part of the community. In September 2016, Davis began volunteering once a week as a lunchroom greeter. Mr. Davis volunteers every Tuesday during both lunch periods. He welcomes students to the cafeteria, and is always available for a conversation. Mansikka, a student, said, “I was so excited for him to volunteer at the high school. I’m glad he’s here and I miss him in the classroom,” said Mansikka.
“I like being around people and greeting them with a smile,” said Davis, a Navy veteran. “I like to lift their spirits. I like the interaction, the fellowship. It makes me feel good inside.”
Davis is rarely seen without a baseball cap on, and is never without his signature smile. Principal Dwight Lundstrom said, “Mr. Davis is a kind man and he’s good with kids. He likes to share kindness.” Principal Lundstrom appreciates the value Davis brings as a volunteer.
Students enjoy the positive interaction with Davis. “I’m glad when he says ‘hello’ to me. I notice when he’s gone,” said Brooke Whelpley, an 11th grader. Kyle Torres, a 10th grader, said, “He’s pretty nice, always smiling. It would be weird if he wasn’t around.” Caleb Torio, a 10th grader, said, “He always says ‘Hello, have a great day.’ I respect him.” Mr. Davis visits the DECA store every Tuesday to buy a smoothie from 12th grader Maya Krantz. “He likes to tell stories, like about how he used to work here and how he likes to volunteer,” said Krantz.
When asked if he had advice for other high school volunteers, Davis said, “Be there for the students. Be someone they can talk to. Have your listening ears open.”