Riley Revallier

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Riley Revallier worked in Mexico with Compassionate Young Leaders. Photo courtesy of Bailey Holter

Service gives student sense of happiness

By Jonathan Kane

Riley Revallier, an aspiring nurse and former ski racer, loves to help people. Even though her ski racing days are behind her, her father, Patrick, still teaches for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and Riley volunteers as a coach for its development team.

“I love helping people and seeing them thrive,” said the Wood River High School senior. “That’s why I love being a part of the SVSEF. I get to teach kids, watch them grow, and help them become better people.”

Riley believes that the ski team better prepares kids for their futures by giving them helpful tools.

“It’s not just skiing; it also helps them with school and with their independence and responsibility and confidence.

“It also helps them to be organized, because you have to be really organized for the ski team. Training six days a week, you are still responsible for yourself and for school and you’ve got to make it to practice on time.”

Riley’s desire to help people really finds expression as part of the Compassionate Young Leaders, an organization that is akin to a youth Peace Corps. “I heard about it and really like doing service work. It would give me a chance to do it in a different culture that wouldn’t be a vacation but, rather, really helping people.”

She went on the CYL’s first trip to San Cristobal in the Chiapas region of Mexico with a group of 10 students and two leaders. San Cristobal is at the heart of the Mayan culture.

“Our main project was to assist at a not-for-profit school led by a couple for indigenous kids,” Riley said. “They paid for everything out of their pocket. We built a greenhouse, painted murals and worked with the kids for the two weeks we were there. It was really fun teaching them English and seeing their hunger for education and watching them learn.”
The second project was helping with an organic garden at a school for disabled people – fertilizing, doing garden work and assisting in upkeep.

“The whole experience gave me a larger perspective on how I live my life and a greater appreciation for what I have. I now know there is a bigger world outside our Valley. I don’t take for granted the schools we attend, the medicine that we have and the opportunities for jobs and work.”

For Riley, service gives her a sense of happiness.

“People all deserve the same opportunity for health and to be given the chance to succeed.”

She plans on going into the nursing field.

“My grandfather was in a hospice [care facility],” Riley said. “The nurses there were so amazing and they made sure our loved one was in such good hands. Everyone should be looking out for each other and that’s what nurses do. I want to be a traveling nurse and go abroad and take my education and really help people.”