The Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (A+PEL), a nonprofit professional education association committed to advancing teachers as career professionals, held their Volunteer of the Year ceremony on June 15 at the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge where they announced their Volunteers of the Year finalists. Among the finalists was Ascension Parish resident Mark Peters. 

Peters was one of 13 former educators, parents, grandparents and mentors selected for their dedication to students and teachers in the public school system. In total, there was over 60 volunteers nominated by members of A+PEL.

"It's a lot of hard work when you volunteer and it feels good to be recognized for it with the volunteer hours that I put in," Peters said.

The Gonzales resident was nominated by the principal and staff of Pecan Grove Primary and the Ascension Parish A+PEL Chapter. He volunteers 15 hours a week helping students at Pecan Grove Primary and Lowery Elementary and Middle through the Young Men of Character Mentoring Program, which aims to provide students with positive role models and the skills needed to succeed as a young adult.

Prior to the mentoring program, he mentored students in reading and sports such as golf, volleyball tennis, flag football and soccer as part of Hope Youth Development.

"I was reading books to kids, going in to classes to encourage kids to stay in school and to read. A lot of kids needed an outlet in the afternoon or on the weekend and we provided that outlet through sports."

In addition to volunteering, he is also heavily involved in the community, as he is the secretary of the Ascension Voters League and a member of Access Community Business Leaders, La Tate Tap Committee and the Recreation Committee for Recreation Now. He is also a tennis and golf instructor and an owner/manager of real estate.

Peters said he continues to give his time volunteering in his community because he knows it makes a difference.

“I volunteer and give of my time and resources because I know it makes a difference and influences kids to do their best and have hope for tomorrow.”