By Katelyn Massarelli

Teens often wonder what kind of community service opportunities are out there, so they can gain community service hours with their school. Community service hours are vital for teens to gain for potential scholarships and to show colleges the extracurricular activities a student is able to participate in on top of their school work. Bloomingdale Regional Library offers just that with the Teen Advisory Board.

The Teen Advisory Board is a group of over 30 active teens from many different middle and high schools within Hillsborough County who are able to gain community service hours and career skills. Teens help out at the library stocking shelves and making sure books are in good conditions for library goers while also helping people find or use resources offered at Bloomingdale Regional Library. The teens are able to choose which summer programs they want to help out with like children reading programs.

Each teen is properly trained to make sure they are successful volunteers that can interact with people and do quality work at the library. Before starting, each teen has to go through the policies and procedures with the head of the Teen Advisory Board, Lonette Jackson. Jackson is dedicated to making a work environment for the teen volunteers that is comfortable for them.

“I want to make sure [Teen Advisory Board members] are comfortable,” Jackson said. “If they are comfortable they will do a good job. The program teaches good work ethics for their future career and helps them get where they want to go.”

Returning Teen Advisory Board members, Dahnae Rogers, a recent graduate from Bloomingdale High School who will be attending St. John’s University in the fall, and Kelsey Winiarski, a homeschooled student who will be starting her junior year in the fall, are teens that have loved working for the Teen Advisory Board.

“It’s not hard labor and the staff is really friendly,” Rogers said. “The environment is really nice and it makes it much more rewarding and an enjoyable time.”

For Winiarski, the Teen Advisory Board has offered her much more than community service hours. Being able to work with children in different reading programs has made her time with the library enriching and has helped her gain skills she can take with her in life.

For more, call 273-3652 or email

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