Volunteering has become a way of life for Sheridan Carroll.
"It's a big part of the world," the 18-year-old Naperville resident said Tuesday. "If we had no volunteers, we wouldn't be able to do anything. Spending an hour doing something that's not helping you, but helping someone else, is so gratifying to me."
A senior at Naperville Central High School, Carroll was one of 21 honored at an annual KidsMatter Youth Service Awards ceremony last week.
Carroll was honored for her charity work through the Naperville Park District. She's the vice president of her school's Rotary Interact, a student service group that works to coordinate volunteer efforts in the community.
"I basically bring opportunities to my peers in Naperville," Carroll said. "It can be hard as a single volunteer to identify those chances to volunteer. I find that people are more likely to reach out when they're with their friends because they can have a good time while doing it."
Diane Shomper, volunteer coordinator for the park district, nominated Carroll because she finds her to be the "most reliable, behind-the-scenes" young adult she works with. She called her an inspiration.
"She's so responsive and ready to help," Shomper said. "And she makes sure that she's the conduit to get her club involved with volunteering."
New to volunteer coordinating this past year, Shomper has never even met Carroll in person, she said. Even so, she knew she was the right woman to be honored with a youth service award.
"When I talked to her about it, I realized my nominating her was no mistake," Shomper said. "It was definitely the right thing to do. She's the real deal."
Aside from her work with the park district, Carroll volunteers with DuPage PADS, Little Friends Inc., Operation Christmas Child and Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village. She also helps with Moda Esperanza, which empowers women in Central America and the U.S., and benefits several charities.
"I find that even though you may be in Naperville, you can still be supporting people thousands of miles away," Carroll said, noting that she's now focused on presenting Moda Esperanza to her peers.
Shomper said she's impressed with Carroll's work ethic and is proud to have great young adults like her in the community.
And Carroll said she has no intention of slowing down.
"Enjoying life is about helping others, and some day you may need help," she said. "When I help give homeless people food, I see them and think, 'What if that was me?' It doesn't matter how they got there, they're there and they need help. If it were me, would want help. So I do."