The basics: Bill Olinger, 53, is a shop teacher at Selma High School. He and his wife, Paula, have been married for 32 years. They have three children: Billy, 28, and twins Jessica and Jacqui, 23.
What he does: Nine years ago, he founded a student club, Technology-With a Mission (T-WAM), at Immanuel High School in Reedley. When he moved to Selma High five years ago, he established the club there.
Students use the hands-on skills learned in shop classes to help with the needs of seniors in the community. Students have repaired fences, gates and sprinklers and built hand-railings at homes, helping seniors to better perform everyday tasks.
They also built an oak communion table for a bilingual church in Selma, Iglesia Evangelico En Accion, which in Spanish means "The Gospel in Action Church." It is a mission church of Reedley Mennonite Brethren Church, where Olinger is a member. A table inscription reads: En Memoria de Mi, or "In Memory of Me."
Why he does it: The club's motto is based on 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12a: "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders ..."
Olinger said it is important that students learn the importance of helping others.
"I tell my students: 'We're there to bless others -- just like you would do with your own grandparents, out of the kindness of your heart,' " he said.
The turning point: While teaching at Immanuel, he met with Reedley city official Carol Martens to talk about ways students could help seniors. She encouraged Olinger -- and the club idea was born.
Details, details: Students in the club also "bagged" a golf cart, installing lifts that enable it to move up and down. The cart is used on the Selma High campus for various tasks.
What others say: Don Enns, a member of Reedley Mennonite Brethren Church who helps at Iglesia Evangelico En Accion, said Olinger influences students by example: "He's setting an example that we use our learning experience to help others."
How you can help: The club needs help building a multiuse trailer to transport its tools for work in the community. Call Selma High at (559) 898-6550.
-- Ron Orozco