Paige Snyder was a witness early in life to how service to others can transform a person heart and soul.
“You come back with a different mindset,” said the 17-year-old senior at Big Spring High School. “You appreciate more what you have.”
In the summer of 2016, she participated in a mission trip to Onancock, Virginia, with other youth group members of the Carlisle Evangelical Free Church. Snyder is on the student ministry team.
They were mingled with teens of other churches and divided into work groups tasked with helping the residents of the rural community on Virginia’s Eastern Shore on the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula.
“One day we cleaned out a homeless shelter,” said Snyder, a Lower Frankford Township resident. “We broke down boxes for a thrift shop. We helped with a kid’s club. We made our own VBS [Vacation Bible School].”
The whole time, Snyder strived to not only grow in her Christian faith, but to share it with others as a role model of what it means to put your beliefs into action. It was a reality check in many ways.
After seeing others' want of food, she no longer complains when a meal is taking too long or is cold when it’s served. “I’ve been so fortunate,” Snyder said. “I have this great family. I have so much compared to so many people.”
Snyder is set to graduate on June 1. Normally part of her summer is spent training for her school field hockey and basketball teams. But summer 2018 will be free and open for her to take a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Her grandfather first organized the annual mission to the Caribbean island nation while he attended a church in Maryland. His involvement in this charitable work continued when he moved north to the Carlisle area.
Snyder grew up hearing stories about the work being done in Batay 35 – a neighborhood of hamlets out in the countryside. Over the years, mission workers have founded a school, purchased a bus and helped to fund a church.
Older students in her youth group have made the trip in the past. Now they are planning a student-led mission. Snyder is hoping she could either accompany them or the regular mission trip in July.
If successful, Snyder could be spending her first summer out of high school teaching Dominicans proper hygiene or how to farm. “I really want to go,” she said.
Big and little
Closer to home, Snyder has been a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region since her sophomore year. Every Wednesday for about an hour, she makes the trip to Mount Rock Elementary School to visit her “little” sister.
Snyder helps the child if she is struggling with homework or preparing for a test. They read books and play games together. They even color with crayons and markers.
“I’m getting to experience all of that with her,” Snyder said. “I see how her life is progressing. Just seeing that I’m able to make a difference in her life is really just satisfying.”
The write path
Since middle school, Snyder has been interested in writing as a possible career. In her freshman and sophomore years, she experimented with the idea of becoming a journalist by taking a mass media class and by participating in journalism-related extracurricular activities.
Those activities included the PawPrint, the student news site of Big Spring High School. Snyder interviewed sources and posted stories online. She was also active in making on-air broadcasts as part of the Channel 3 school television crew.
Snyder learned journalism was not for her. The writing style was too cut and dry. Instead she wants to pursue marketing, figuring that career field would allow her to use creative writing in a way that is practical in the business world. Her first choice in higher education is Grove City College near Pittsburgh.
“I love the creativity in writing,” Snyder said. “You can put yourself on a piece of paper. I love coming up with new ideas and being innovative.” Her dream job is to work publicity for a pro or semi-pro athletic team.
Last spring Snyder participated in a job shadow opportunity with the Harrisburg Senators baseball team. One day she was in behind-the-scenes meetings with marketing staff planning a special promotion. She distributed flyers publicizing the event.
Two days later, Snyder was in action talking with the coach in the dugout and helping staff hand out goody bags to children. The experience solidified her decision to focus on marketing as a career.
Snyder is on the staff of the Water Wheel, the school yearbook. Her most recent project is to layout the girls’ soccer page. The work includes interviewing players for a short write-up and writing captions for photos.
Yearbook staff must also feature clubs and write impromptu stories that define the events of 2016-17. One story, for example, will touch on the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
“Its lots of fun,” Snyder said. “I really love the freedom to design my own page.” With only 10 students on the yearbook staff, there are plenty of opportunities for them to bond as friends.
Snyder has been on the high school field hockey team all four years, the first three as a defender, her senior year as a midfielder. The team lost to Northern York High School in the opening round of the district playoffs.
Snyder has been a forward on the girls’ basketball team her whole high school career. Last year, going was tough and the team only won four games the whole season. This year there is reason for optimism.
“We have a tight group of seniors,” Snyder said. “We’ve been playing together since the fifth grade. We really know each other and our style of play so it should be a fun year.”
The basketball season starts in mid-December.