“I believe that it is important to give back so people can make an impact in the world. If I did not do anything to make the world a little bit better who would?” Eighteen-year-old Santia Williams of North Providence has asked herself that question, and through her acts of kindness has demonstrated to the world that she is the answer.
National Honor Society Adviser, Jill Usenia, nominated Williams saying, “I’ve noticed that Santia actively seeks out people who look lost or like they need help and she has a warm, caring nature that people are drawn to. I have witnessed her help a new student adjust to their new setting, sit with new kids at lunch, show them where their classes are, etc. all on her own accord. I have also witnessed how gentle and caring she is with the Special Needs students. She has the type of personality where people enjoy being around her, and she seems to anticipate those who are in need.”
For the past three years, Williams spent her time volunteering as a mentor two days a week at her high school's Writing Center to assist her peers with their struggles. In that time, she has also been a mentor in the SOS peer mentoring program working with incoming freshman that may have trouble adjusting to high school either academically or socially. She is also involved in Teaching Pathways, which is a class that allows seniors to work with kids with intellectual disabilities. Williams is also a member of VAASA (Varsity Athletes Against Substance Abuse), a club strictly for varsity athletes who vow to not do any drugs or alcohol. The club visits middle schools and talks to younger students about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
Everyone wants to feel included, especially teenagers. Four years ago when 18-year-old Myranda Harbinson embarked on her journey at Pembroke High School, she made sure a choir classmate, on the Autism spectrum, could not only belt it out with confidence, Harbinson formed a friendship filled with love and kindness. When the Metta Students Foundation learned about this beautiful bond they wanted to honor Harbinson.
Myranda’s choir teacher, Gwynne Chapman alerted Metta Students saying, “I nominated Myranda because I have seen the remarkable and continual kindness she shows to her friend and choir mate on a daily basis. Over the course of the four years they have been together, Myranda forged a relationship with a student on the Autism spectrum. Myranda helps draw her out and makes sure she is always comfortable and included in the class, helping her keep track of where we are in the music and guides her regarding expectations when we are performing on the stage. Myranda initiates conversation with her and helps set the tone for her peers on how to interact with a student who presents with Autism.”
Harbinson’s acts of kindness went beyond the choir stage, in her junior and senior year she wanted her friend to have the same prom experience as everyone else and organized a “Promposal” during choir class. Both years she and her friend attended the prom together. “If it weren’t for her, I would not have attended our junior prom last year, the same thing goes for this year,” states Harbinson. “When I told her parents about my decision to take her to senior prom they told me that I didn’t have to do this, and that it was my senior prom. What they didn’t know was that taking her is all I wanted to do. There is no other way that I’d want to spend my last prom than together.”
Sarah Mellen traveled more than four thousand miles to a Costa Rican refugee camp to help build an addition and better living standards for the people who live there.
“Seeing these intelligent people, forced out of their countries and struggling to meet their basic human needs opened my eyes to the world around me,” states Mellen. “My focus is on human rights, specifically food. In the upcoming months, I plan to participate in the ‘live below the line’ challenge in which I will join others in living off of $2.00 a day for one week to help raise awareness for hunger problems in the U.S.”
Cynthia Derrane, Foreign Language Department of Norwood Public Schools, nominated Sarah saying,” Sarah has inspired her classmates to give to others through service work. Upon returning home, she immediately looked for opportunities within her own community to continue to help people meet their basic needs. Through helping with our school food pantry, the town food pantry or through her latest endeavor, raising awareness for hunger through a Live Below the Line Challenge, she tirelessly gives of herself. She is a role model and an inspiration.”
Noah uses music and metta to brighten the lives of senior citizens. At just seventeen, he understands the importance of giving back. “I was inspired by my older brother who is a Nurse Practitioner working in a hospice unit. I learned the end of life is just as important as the beginning. I realized the relationship between memory and music, and people are able to remember the beautiful events of their life through familiar music.”
Judy Bass, Communications Specialist at the high school, nominated Simms saying, ”Noah is a superb honor roll student, and is mature, poised, friendly, responsible, capable, dedicated, compassionate, industrious, and truly caring. He has a sophisticated grasp of end-of-life issues that is remarkable for someone of his age. He recently got a puppy that he brings to the nursing homes and assisted living facilities he visits, thus enhancing the value of the time he spends with the residents. When Noah talks about what he does, his face lights up, and you can see how much it means to him. He is an exceptional young man. I have no doubt that he will use the education he received at Blue Hills to do more great things in the future.”
“I am on the executive board of “Best Buddies” at my school, says Alison Horning “I have been raising money for pediatric cancer and leukemia since I was in 8th grade.”
Alison Horning says she became involved with this cause because one her friends was diagnosed with leukemia. That sparked her passion for pediatric cancer and leukemia awareness because she wanted to help her friend, It also made her realize how many others are going through the same terrible reality that her friend endured during her treatment. In addition, Hornung has also done some canned food drives and donated the food to local food pantries.
“It is important to give back because it is the greatest happiness anyone can feel. By making someone else happy and spreading positivity and love you are doing what every person was meant to do. Helping others is so important because you are bringing them happiness, giving them opportunities, and in some cases giving them a second chance at life,” states Hornung.
“I strive to recognize the issues in my community and the world around me.” Delaney Bernier is on a mission to #sharemetta. The fifteen year old Providence resident and sophomore at the Lincoln School saw a need and took action, creating a major toiletry drive to benefit women in homeless shelters.
Now in their third year and expanding into Massachusetts the non profit awards $1,000 grants to students who #sharemetta. November 30th at 3pm at the Lincoln School at 301 Butler Ave, Providence, the foundation will award Bernier $1,000, making her their 39th Metta Student. Members of the media are welcome.
Bernier’s journey to #sharemetta started when she was just eleven years old and continues today. In that time Bernier has involved other students to help create the kits that go to both the Women’s Center of Rhode Island and Amos House.
“I was a competitive gymnast at the time and would often stay in hotels after far away meets. These hotels offered small toiletries but my family and I did not need them because we brought our own supplies. Everyday, I noticed that housekeeping would throw out the toiletries and replace them with new ones. This was shocking to me for I was certain that there were people who could use these products that were just thrown away. It seemed so wasteful and this got me thinking what I could do. I took this observation back to school with me and decided to organize a toiletries drive” states Bernier.
Norm Kelly, founder of Software Quality Associates in Providence, created the Metta Students Foundation in October of 2012 after learning of one teen’s act of kindness towards another teen. “Metta means love and kindness,” states Norm Kelly. “We are thankful to all of our winners for making a positive difference in the world and for helping us spread the metta mission to simply be kind and #sharemetta.”
The foundation learned about Bernier’s acts of kindness after receiving a nomination from Peter Brooks, the Upper School Director, “Delaney's selflessness and commitment to service emerged early in her time at Lincoln, when she singlehandedly spearheaded a toiletries drive to benefit the Providence Women's Center- Amazingly Delaney was only in 6th grade when she held her first drive. In the three years that followed, Delaney held three more drives, each one more successful than the last. Seeing as Lincoln is a Quaker School, Delaney's efforts are fully in line with our school's mission and her hard work reflects the core community values that we hope to foster snd support in our students.
Now a sophomore in high school, Delaney continues to lead by example- her 5th toiletries drive is scheduled for the spring of 2017. Based on what she has accomplished over the past few years, I am certain that Delaney will find new and interesting ways to serve her community in the future.”
“The Metta Foundation is truly unique, as it rewards simple kindness and encourages the kindness to grow,” states Bernier. “I am honored to be recognized as a student worthy of this award. All of the years I was coordinating the toiletries drive, I never anticipated anything except giving to the homeless women. I am excited to have the opportunity to do even more with the grant funds.”
It is for all of these reasons that the Metta Students is proud to award Bernier one thousand dollars. To see video of how the Metta Students foundation began or for more information about the foundation, log onto www.mettastudents.org
The foundation learned about Frias' acts of kindness after receiving a nomination from Amanda Pyne of Middle-High School in Avon, “Jodee is an inspiration. She is constantly looking for a way to improve our school, her community, and the world. She is happiest when she is making someone else happy. She deserves to be recognized for commitment and passion for helping others. What sets her apart: Jodee seems to have an unending supply of enthusiasm. She is constantly looking for ways to be involved and to be a leader. She is headed for great things and a bright future.
Some of the activities Frias is involved in include: the African Library Project where she raised $500 and 1,000 children's books to create a library at the Nyamambisi Primary School in Botswana, Africa. This included the whole community in fundraising and joining together to get the job done. She is also the co-president of Student Council and president of the Interact Club where students do service projects all around the community, including raking lawns of those who need assistance. Frias was also her school’s Project 351 ambassador, a program for leaders with a strong passion for community service as well as the founder of the Avon sector of Girl Up, which is a program through the UN to raise money and awareness for women’s rights in Third World countries.
“I believe that giving back is the best thing anyone can do for our world,” states Frias. “If you are fortunate enough to have something that you can give or you have the tools to help to improve someone’s life, it really is a feeling like no other. If you give back to one person and then that person pays it forward to the next and it continues, then you have made the world a better place just through one small act of kindness.”
Eighteen year old Dakota Grenier can be described as selfless, humble and filled with gratitude.
“I nominated Dakota because of her selfless attitude. When Dakota decided to take on the "Student of the Year" campaign, it was personal to her because of her Mom's battle with lymphoma. Over the course of six weeks, students were challenged to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the "winner" being the one who raised the most money. Being a competitive athlete, Dakota likes to win. Gathering a group of friends to be her "teammates" in the challenge, Dakota did everything in her power to raise as much money as possible. At the end of six weeks, Dakota raised over $35,000. While this in and of itself is commendable, it's not why I nominated her. It's what happened afterwards,” states St. Mary Academy-Bay View, School Counselor, Drea Harms.
“At the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's culminating event, it was announced that Dakota came in second place. For her efforts, she received the Mission Award. This award is given to the student who best exemplifies the mission of LLS. What it tells me is that for Dakota it was never about the money but spreading the word of the great works of LLS. Additionally, the Mission Award came with a $2,500 scholarship. That night at the awards ceremony, Dakota announced that she wanted to give the money to a student at West Warwick High School who had just been diagnosed with leukemia.”