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Thursday, 24 June 2010 20:34

Youth in the Family

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How fortunate I am to have two teenage members of my family who recognize that not everyone in their neighborhood, whether local or global is blessed with a middle class life style. One in Virginia, Nicole my granddaughter and the other in Vermont, Anna, my niece’s daughter. Both are graduating from high school this June and looking forward to pursuing their academic studies, Anna at George Washington Univ. and Nicole at Northern Virginia Community College. 

I decided these two young people are worthy of being acknowledged for their good works, not that they are ready to save the world, but because I believe in quiet ways they are recognizing the earth and its inhabitants need to be treated with respect. 

Nicole began at the young age of five to accompany “Grandma” delivering hot meals to home bound people with AIDS in my Manhattan neighborhood.  While not able to lift the heavy bags with meals, her friendly greetings brought a bright spot to their day during the early years of AIDS.  Nicole has been a Girl Scout most of her life taking disadvantaged kids to camp during spring breaks, going on camping trips, a mainstay of the Girls Scouts, providing Nicole her early encounters with nature which she also pursued with her family in Maine, N.C.and  Tennessee. She has taken a vocational course in dog grooming and now helps her parents foster dogs. Nicole has also attended two Maryknoll Affiliate meetings, the biannual at Maryknoll when she was 10 yrs old and the western regional at 15 in Missoula, Montana coming away with her first exposures to global understanding. She was also fortunate to take part in the opening ceremonies of the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C

Nicole
Nicole (with glasses holding a poster) with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

Nicole soon decided her interest lay in marine science and for three summers, attended marine camps in Ct. and Va. In 2009, Nicole received her Silver Trefoil Award that focuses on community service from the Girl Scouts which she leaves promoting a Global Effort to End Distracted Driving.

Eventually Nicole plans to pursue her studies in marine science at Old Dominion University in Hampton, Va. with the intention of going all the way for a doctorate and a career in saving the ocean treasures. She loves those whales!

Anna, is the daughter of my niece Michele, who was entering senior year at Mount Mansfield Union High School, Jericho, Vt. when she heard me speak about the project I was starting in Jeremie, Haiti.  The purpose was to provide money for girls ages 18 and above to complete high school with the aim of entering college and preparing for a career.  These girls come from very poor families who cannot pay the high tuition required to get a decent education in Haiti. Anna saw some photos and barely listened to my speel before exclaiming she could hold a money-raising event at her school. With the material I gave her, she prepared a power point presentation which she gave during a school assembly in November.  I went to make the introduction and Anna collected about $150 of small donations from a full house of students. Then in the spring, she organized a concert for the Haiti girls charging $4 each and raised $450. She also made about $40 from a coin drive. This money I will carry to Haiti in June and turn it over to the five girls who will decide on how it will be spent. Since they will be moving into the house being vacated by orphans, we will discuss renovations that could be made to house young women. Anna is waiting to hear from an application she put in for the girls’ project for a grant from her school. Finally, she led a workshop on Haiti during “Global Awareness Day” at another event which is such an important issue for young people today.

Anna plans to major in political communication and we expect to stay in touch and put her talents to good use by continuing to contribute to the girls education.

A last note about something both girls have done, i.e. walked or run to raise money for the March of Dimes and Breast Cancer Awareness which they can continue during their college years.


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