We must be the change we wish to see in the world.-Mahatma Gandhi
Year after year, Ayusa's Community Service Challenge selection committee is awed and inspired by the vast amount of submissions received from students all over the United States. The positive impact that our students have had on their host communities this year is immeasurable. Projects ranged from working with the elderly, tutoring classmates, spending time with children, and assisting the less fortunate, among many others. From the dozens of applications received, we chose three winners deserving of special recognition. In addition to their enthusiasm for volunteering, the winners all exhibited a commitment to their projects, made a powerful impact in their communities, and grew as individuals because of their participation in service projects. They will receive a trip to San Francisco for their prize in May.
Hanan Abou Ali
Hanan is originally from Lebanon and is placed in Green Bay, WI with the Leiterman Family. She completed over 100 hours of community service, dedicating most of her time to the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Program. Hanan has been committed to this program since October and spends time each week with her student, working on homework, playing board games and talking. Of her experiences volunteering, Hanan said, "Being involved in all types of volunteer work I have discovered that no matter where you come from, people love you for your heart." Hanan's Youth Service Leader had this to say, "Hanan has volunteered in so many different areas it is almost impossible to evaluate her impact. She has became a Big Sister to a child in need of attention, helped at the YMCA, bagged food at our food pantry, babysat for staff and parents in our school district, helped raise money for Cerebral Palsy, rang bells for the Salvation Army and even helped our local zoo. She is nothing short of amazing."
Alena, originally from Russia, is a FLEX student who is currently living in San Antonio, TX with the Coutu Family. In addition to working with children, Alena has been active in her community with cleaning and rebuilding projects. She also took the initiative to help her school by volunteering over 100 hours to file documents, run errands and greet visitors. Those who recommended her for this contest all commented on Alena's enthusiasm, excitement, positive attitude and dedication to helping others in need.Alena's most memorable project was "Rebuilding Together," which helped reconstruct homes for those in need. She said, "When you see how much you help somebody to improve their life conditions and to help children have a better environment to grow up in, you start to understand how important it is to help those around you and to care about them."
Marina, a YES student from Pakistan, is living with the Kruse Family in Fredericksburg, TX. This year, Marina has spent countless hours volunteering with children, spending time with the elderly and assisting the less fortunate in her community. She was especially dedicated to the Girl Scouts organization where she serves as an Ambassador Scout. Marina used her experiences volunteering in the United States to create a community service club at her high school in Pakistan. She is already planning future projects where she hopes to help Pakistani people in need.Marina says, "The time I volunteered gave me pleasure, hope, confidence in myself and the desire to change the world to make it a peaceful and better place for everybody to live in."