“In my personal and social life, I work to spread the mission of love, kindness, and inclusion by coaching different levels of cheerleading, both 8th grade cheer and challenger cheerleading, and mix the two to teach important acceptance and responsibility roles in the lives of others. Through working at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Somerset, Ma., I teach the essential characteristics of inclusion and kindness by setting an example for students and exemplifying proper language and friendship when playing,” states Szczoczarz.
In addition to all of this, during her sophomore year, Szczoczarz got involved in Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization which works with students who have disabilities.
Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School Science Teacher Diana Hopkins nominated Szczoczarz stating, “Ashley is undoubtedly, one of the most conscientious students I have ever had the opportunity to teach. Beyond the classroom, she is a vivacious leader. Having served her peers in student government since 2013, Ashley has worked tirelessly to coordinate events such as the prom and winter ball, the annual blood drive, and the community-wide spirit week fundraisers. Ashley has demonstrated unwavering commitment to the success of her peers and the enrichment of her community.”
Stepping out to help others is just one way dancer and Cape Cod Academy senior Alexandra Bernardo gives back to her community. The West Chatham seventeen-year-old has been sashaying her way and helping others throughout her high school years.
“I have danced in numerous dance marathons and benefit performances with my dance studio to raise money for Friends of Dana Farber to fund breast and ovarian cancer research. I have also danced in many Shelter from the Storm concerts, a benefit concert with performers from many local high schools. This year we raised enough money to completely renovate the Safe Harbor Shelter for battered women and children. Other years the show has raised money for local food pantries, homeless shelters, veterans, and health centers.
I have been privileged to have a wonderful education and the resources to allow me to give back, and it is very important that I use these resources. I am involved in a lot of breast cancer fundraisers because my mom battled the disease when I was in middle school, and I believe that more can be accomplished when there is a personal connection to a cause. I love my home on Cape Cod and it makes me sad knowing that there are people in my community without a safe home, or a home at all. I have taken it upon myself to do what I can to better my local community, because I believe improving a smaller community can yield larger results. Giving back makes those who benefit extremely happy and grateful, and it makes those who give fulfilled as well. It sounds simple, but giving back helps everyone and makes everyone happy!”
Despite setbacks in her life, like her Central Falls home being destroyed in a house fire in March of 2015, Carter never gave up her quest to help others. Thankfully, everyone made it out alive, but they lost everything and were forced to live in a hotel. Even then, Carter never stopped helping others and was also grateful to those who reached out to her family. Carter is currently researching the foster care system in Rhode Island and is working to put together care packages for children who are removed from their homes on an emergency basis.
“My main focus is foster youth because those are the people I feel need the most attention. I would do anything in my power to provide comfort and relief to the youth that we have in foster care today, because those are the people who need the most tender loving care,” states Carter.
“I nominated Ariana Carter to be a Metta Student because she epitomizes everything that Metta believes in. Ariana is someone who cares deeply about others and often people who are less fortunate and in the most need,” states Blackstone Academy English Teacher Paul Healy. “Last year, Ariana completed a drive for Pennies for Patients and another drive for the Make a Wish foundation. Through these drives, Ariana and her partner were able to raise roughly $1,000. To help with this cause, Ariana also organized a “Ballin’ for a Cause” basketball game in which the proceeds went towards the Make a Wish foundation. This was a great event for Ariana because she is an accomplished athlete who was captain of both the Central Falls High School girls’ volleyball and basketball teams.”
Sara Taborda is deeply involved in community service at Saint Raphael Academy. She participates in the vacation camps they organize for children living in low income housing units. With the group she helps give children a place to go, which also gives them the chance to create new friendships and to become part of a greater community. The group creates food and toy baskets for the needy in their community during the holiday season.
“I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Sara Taborda for the last three years at Saint Raphael Academy. During this time, I had exponentially grown to value and admire the impact Sarah has on the students and faculty of Saint Raphael Academy,” states Marc Thibault, Vice Principal of Student Life. “Her wisdom is beyond her years and service to the greater community has been instrumental. Sarah volunteers at soup kitchens, Lasallian Youth, community cleanup projects, participates in sports, nursing homes, preschools, church, peer ministry, student government, and the national honor society. In addition, Sara has been nominated for the Saint Timothy’s Award. This is a national award given annually in the Diocese of Providence to Catholic young people from each Regional Vicariate and one student from each Catholic High School.”
“I personally believe that it is important to give back, because we are responsible, as cohabiters of this planet, to care for one another. Giving back showcases our selflessness and our desire to ensure a good quality of life for all people. Even when we are successful, giving back shows our humility and in turn, makes us better people.”
From Mississippi to India to the Dominican Republic, seventeen year old Rachel-Rose Komanapalli of Barrington, RI has traveled the world, on a mission to help those in need. In addition, the Barrington Christian Academy senior volunteered at Women & Infants Hospital and worked with her parents’ non-profit, Manna International.
“Most of my work has to do with poverty,” states Komanapalli. In Mississippi, I worked in an after school program for underprivileged children in Jackson. In La Romana, DR I worked with a medical clinic to provide medical care for people in the poor sugar cane villages. In India, I help children in the orphanages that Manna ministries has.”
Mike Skazinski, Assistant Head of School at Barrington Christian Academy, nominated Komanapalli for a Metta Students Foundation grant saying, “The thing that sets Rachel-Rose apart from other students is that she takes the initiative to help and volunteer, no one forces her to fundraise or take her personal time to spread kindness and goodwill. One other thing that sets her apart from other students is that Rachel-Rose does not draw attention to herself. She does everything quietly and “under the radar.”
Delilah Johnson of Little Compton is passionate about many things. Johnson is a member of the Bishop Stang swim team and serves as the Secretary of the Jr. National Honor Society. In addition, Johnson volunteers two to three times a week after school at My Brother’s Keeper. To date, she has completed close to five hundred hours of service. Each time she goes to volunteer, she tries to bring along another student to introduce them to the organization.
“Delilah is the most reliable student volunteer and has taken on a large leadership role at a young age,” states Dias, who nominated her “Delilah currently serves as the Student Service Coordinator for My Brother’s Keeper at Bishop Stang and sets a wonderful example for her classmates with her enthusiasm for their work and mission. With a staff of only three people, My Brother’s Keeper relies on local high school students like Delilah to carry out their mission of bringing love and hope to those they serve. Delilah is incredibly organized and she has found creative ways to keep track of student volunteers.”
I am a student coordinator for My Brother’s Keeper at my school, and I look at my role as a way to promote love and kindness. I never want to force students to volunteer, I always want to encourage students to get involved with My Brother’s Keeper for the sake of experiencing the mission and living out their faith. In addition, I have organized a linen collection (sheets, blankets, etc.) for My Brother’s Keeper at my school. I am glad that I can promote the mission of this organization to my school community in hope that they can love it as much as I do.”
Despite battling brain cancer and having a tumor removed seventeen year old Sarah Edwards has persevered in doing good for others.
This past holiday season Edwards collected hundreds of toys for the pediatric oncology unit at Tufts Medical Center wanting to give back for all that they did for her while she battled her disease. She created a contest for all Bellingham High students and had each class try to out-give each other. In addition, Edwards has been an instrumental part of starting the very first National Junior Honor Society at Bellingham High for 8th & 9th grade students.
When Edwards noticed that Bellingham did not have a track program for younger students in her town she came up with the idea for a summer “Mini-Meets” series of track nights for children in grades 1-8. She enlisted the help of fellow track students to run each event, purchased 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons to be given out at the end of each evening, and contacted local businesses for donations given as door prizes.
“I think giving back is important to show how truly grateful you are for what someone has done for you, started Edwards, “I wanted to express how much I appreciated the support and guidance I received during the time I was diagnosed with cancer. I also thought it was important to be there for other children who were going through something I could relate to. I know that if I had received a donation like that at the time I would’ve really appreciated and needed it, considering what I was going through.”
Feelings of confusion, betrayal, depression, mistrust and anxiety describe how video voyeurism victim Emma Saccoccio describes what she experienced after learning someone had been digitally monitoring every move she made in what she thought was a safe location. After the shock wore off, the seventeen year old decided to turn her private pain into a public crusade to help others who have been victims of digital abuse. The Clayville, RI teen created a Facebook page and later the website presspause2think.org.
“PressPause was conceived on November 19th, 2014, within the four walls of my bedroom, the same place my phone rang and altered my life.” states Saccoccio. “Deciding to start PressPause was an easy decision; I had been a victim of video voyeurism for eight months and I was done letting it overpower me. It was time for change. I got my laptop out and started the Facebook page “PressPause.”
Now Saccoccio spends her time speaking to educators, parents and students about her painful experience with digital abuse, in particular, video voyeurism, to inform them about the affect it can have. While she says sharing her experience publicly with so many people is difficult, she knows her mission is to warn others that this could happen to anybody. Her strength and ability to put her pain aside in order to help others makes Saccoccio a perfect candidate for a Metta Students grant.
After learning that a fellow Classical High School student athlete was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, and that sixteen year old, James Greene, would have to undergo seventeen tough cycles of chemotherapy over ten months, along with six weeks of daily radiation, fellow students and friends decided to use their team work to #sharemetta.
Classical High School held a fundraiser during the 2015 fall sports season called "Go Green For Greene" where they sold t-shirts, had numerous bake-sales, did pledge sheets, and held raffles to raise money to go toward the family. With lots of care and hard work, they raised over six thousand dollars for the “Go Green for Greene” cause.
“I nominated my student athletes at Classical because of the way they came together as a community to support a fellow athlete in need,” states Head Field Hockey Coach Colleen Loughlin. All of the fall teams organized a game to play in honor of their classmate/ teammate that is currently battling cancer. They went above and beyond my expectations. I never imagined that they could raise over $6,000. I am so proud of the people they are. This wasn't just a student that stepped up but an entire sports department. They understood the importance of helping others in need.”
In eighth grade Kayleigh LaPre of Cumberland became extremely ill and spent months sick at home. Rather than feel sorry for herself, she felt inspired by the doctors and nurses that helped her get better.
That’s when Kayleigh began her mission to #sharemetta and give back to the community. While recovering, she researched community service to help children. Despite another health setback, her sophomore year she ran her first dosomething.org campaign. Since then, she has tirelessly worked helping others and also got involved in Teens for Jeans. The seventeen year old has collected hundreds of jeans that go to local shelters.
“I believe it is important to give back in order to appreciate what you have. So far, I have been very fortunate, and I am thankful for everything, but I realize that one day, we will all need a helping hand,” states LaPre. “Whether you become sick, homeless, or just need support, ‘we all need somebody to lean on. I believe it is important to help people worldwide, especially since we all have the power to help. Even if you don't have money and a car, there are always ways to help! I also think that as the saying goes, ‘actions speak louder than words’ and that you need to ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’ These are the words I live by and that inspire me to lend a hand and help.”