Sixteen-year-old Nick Lowinger of Cranston is a committed leader. At age twelve he created the non-profit foundation Gotta Have Sole, Inc., and since 2010 Gotta Have Sole Inc. has donated new footwear to over 10,000 children in homeless shelters in 21 states throughout the United States. Lowinger’s commitment to this cause and getting others involved makes him the 16th Metta Student winner.
Nick is also in the process of developing a leadership model so that other Wheeler students can become more involved in furthering volunteer initiatives and fundraising for the organization. And he is coordinating plans for his legacy to keep Wheeler students engaged in service and leadership for GHS after he graduates.”
“I am being raised in a household where my family always gives of themselves to help those in need, says Nick, “Paying it forward comes naturally to me and I think it is very important to give back to your community. I am trying to be a role model to show others, especially teens, that they can make a difference in the world. It is gratifying to pay it forward and to know one's efforts are helping others.”
The Metta Students Foundation is pleased to award the Cranston West High School basketball team with the Metta Students Foundation grant for the month of May. They join the April 2014 winners in being honored due to their supportive inclusion of Cole Campbell, a freshman playing on their opponent’s team for one special game. Cole suffers from Tubular sclerosis, a rare brain disease that causes serious seizures. He was invited to get to play on the basketball team with his brother for a few minutes in their game against Cranston West.
“My goal for the night was to have my two sons play together on the court for one time in their lives before my son Tom graduated,” says Coventry Basketball Head Coach, Tom Campbell, “Cole has some special needs and is not able to fully play basketball on a varsity or JV level. I thought the best part was going to be seeing Cole and Tom on the floor at the same time. Honestly that became secondary to what happened for everyone in that gym. To watch the reactions and the sportsmanship of Cranston West and the energy and excitement of all the fans became the best part of the night. I have never been in a gym where everyone was supporting the same thing. Usually the gym is divided for their respective teams. Those two minutes that Cole played everyone in that gym was supporting him and the moment. Truly Special!“
The Metta Students Foundation is pleased to honor this team with a grant.
A once in a lifetime chance is the way Coventry High School freshman Cole Campbell describes the evening of February 21st, when he got to play in a high school basketball game alongside his big brother, senior Tom Campbell for the very first time.
Cole suffers from Tubular sclerosis, a rare brain disease that causes serious seizures. By the age of 8 he underwent three brain surgeries and required some special accomodations at school. As team manager Cole normally cheers the players on from the side lines but, with the blessing of both teams, Cole was in the game that night. The magical metta moment came quickly, when Cole took the first handoff from big brother Tom and landed a three-pointer, followed by three other three-pointers to win the game.
Both teams were enthusiastic and supportive of Cole’s participation in the game that day, and thus, The Metta Students Foundation is honored to provide both teams with a Metta Students Grant.
Peers and educators describe Allison as always being there for those in need. “She came to me asking what she could do to help the needy in our school,” says Tiverton High School Guidance Counselor Cathy Winston, “she then put together a holiday basket with gifts and necessities for some of our neediest students.
When her best friend was dying from cancer, she donated her hair to Locks of Love and now she continues to keep Megan's memory alive by coordinating "Miles for Megan" which funds a scholarship in her young friend's name. This summer when she was made aware of a bullying situation, she called me to ensure that the youngster was okay. She has the integrity and courage to do the right thing at all times”
“I believe it is important to get involved in your community, because providing help and assistance that other people need is very gratifying to them as well as one’s self,” says Quicho. “The more effort people make to make a difference in someone’s life, the greater reward there is in gaining self-confidence and perspective on how to continue to make the world a better a place. More specifically, when I’m involved, I feel grateful that I made someone else smile. Much like a picture, a smile is worth a thousand words.
Seventeen year old Topaz Leshin-Szewczok is the twelfth winner of the Metta Students Foundation Grant.
Teacher Stephen Levesque nominated Leshin-Szewczok saying, “She is involved in a wide variety of volunteer activities including: B'Nai Brith Youth Organization, free private academic tutoring, volunteering at Temple Sinai, the AIDS Walk in Providence, Operation Smile to raise money for surgery for children born with clef pallets, and Safety Town where she teaches first-grade students how to safely cross streets.
Leshin-Szewczok is also President of her school's chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance, secretary for LeOlum Mazkirah as part of B'Nai Brith, and is Vice-President of the Chapter Project for the National Honor Society.”
It is important to give back to your community because that is what shows your character,” says Leshin-Szewczok. “By showing that you are willing to give up your time for your community, without any visible award, you are proving that you are worthy of what your community has to give to you. Winning this grant means that I am successfully living up to being the person that I want to be. Kindness is free to give away and doing so comes with priceless rewards.”
Abby Byrne is dedicated to helping others. She crafted a grant proposal and presented it to a committee in order to secure Haney Fellowship funding for a solo trip to ‘Barrio Solidaridad’ in Salta, Argentina to do volunteer work. Communicating only in Spanish Abby helped nuns tend to the poor and needy.
Abby also applied for and was accepted to be a volunteer to help the sick and dying in Lourdes. Abby writes the following of her experience: ‘This was a ten day trip where volunteers assist the disabled on their pilgrimage to the grotto to pray for healing. The volunteers mostly had small jobs: setting tables, making beds, wheeling people from room to room, offering someone a cup of coffee, or accompanying them for a service. I had been selected to be a “buddy” for a man named Adam who was unable to feed himself. I sat down with him for each meal and fed him before I ate. It was the most intense, emotional and exhausting week of my life, and really one of the best experiences I've ever had.’
Finally, Abby went to Virginia last March with Appalachia Service Project. There, she spent a week doing hard manual labor.
Having shared metta on a global level, Abby is a deserving recipient of this grant.
Quiet, caring, and unassuming are words often used to describe Andrew Lanni. Despite losing both his parents at a young age, the Bishop Hendricken Junior has always persevered.
Andrew’s Homeroom teacher, Kathy Bellavance nominated Andrew, stating, “Leadership for Andrew is natural thing. The place I see this the most is in school working with the Options Program. This is a program that allows special needs students to be part of the Hendricken community. Andrew works with them in the statewide unified sport leagues, both basketball and volleyball. He was recently asked to be part of the Special Olympic Youth Forum.
Andrew is also one of the leaders in the recycling program at Hendricken. He belongs to a homeroom that tries to show the school community the importance of being green and recycling. He is the junior representative for the core group. Andrew is also involved in the Sea Scouts. He is the top youth leader which is called the boatswain. This position allows him to be a mentor and teacher for the younger seamen.
At age 16 Molly Giudice of Westerly lost her mother to lung cancer. Despite her feelings of devastation, Molly turned her private pain into a public crusade to raise awareness and money for the Lung Cancer Foundation.
To date she has raised more than $5,000 and it is her continued efforts and acts of kindness that make her the ninth Metta Students Foundation recipient.
Molly's swim coach and Director of Admissions at The Prout School nominated Molly saying, "Molly has always been a very driven young lady and I believe she got that strength from her mother. Molly has dealt with so much heartache this past year and never once let it deter her from doing her best. I know her mother is so proud of her!"