For this year’s 20 Under 20, we asked each student to write about their community service work and volunteer efforts. From starting their own foundations and helping establish libraries to tutoring fellow students and building homes for the needy, these Intown students will inspire you.
Lucia Butler, 18
Atlanta Girls’ School
I have interned at The Center for The Visually Impaired (CVI) since I was in 10th grade. I was interested in visually impaired children and wanted to know how they interacted with people in the real world. I worked with ages 2-4 and 5-10 and taught the children how to hold a cane correctly, helped them become more independent, and to be more confident with their social skills. I also helped them with their mathematic and reading skills so they could prepare for the next grade. Being involved with CVI, I have learned more about myself, my interactions with people and how people should not take life for granted.
How you can give back: You can make a donation or volunteer at CVI by visiting cviga.org.
Riley Elizabeth Patton, 11
The Westminster Schools
By the time I was 10, I had been playing soccer for a few years. I knew I had a lot of used gear and so did my teammates. I felt like there was probably a way to use that gear to help other kids. I asked for any gear that my friends and teammates were not using. And once I had a lot of it, I had to figure out exactly how to get it to kids who needed it. So I started Kicks for A Kause. And then, by luck, I met Nyowo Scott. He had an organization that took used soccer gear to kids in Liberia. It was a perfect match. Now kids in Africa are able to benefit from the soccer gear that I collect here. We have also had a fundraiser (Join to Juggle) and we just participated in Westminster’s Alternative Gift Fair.The money we raise goes directly to buying more gear to donate. I have gotten tremendous support from my own club, Tophat Soccer, and look forward to working with other soccer clubs in the area to gather even more gear.
How you can give back: Visit kicksforakause.com to find out how to make a donation of equipment or funds for the organization.
Sam Fallon, 17
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School
A few years ago, as part of a Disability Awareness program with Boy Scout Troop 370, I took a tour of The Shepherd Center. While in the gym, I noticed they had a lot of cool sports, but they did not have wheelchair lacrosse. I thought about it for two years, and when I began to get close to planning my Eagle Scout project, I knew that I wanted to do something with Wheelchair Lacrosse. I did some research and found Ryan Baker and Bill Lundstrom in California who had formed Wheelchair Lacrosse USA. I worked with Ryan and Bill to put a plan together, presented the plan to Troop 370’s Eagle Board of Review and with their permission began to reach out to the community to put a WLAX Exhibition and Clinic together at The Cooler in Alpharetta. After many meetings and planning, a date, location, coaches, etc. were in place. Many of my teammates from Holy Innocents’, coaches (current and former), parents, local businesses and lacrosse enthusiasts from across the southeast came together, in a group effort, to host the largest wheelchair lacrosse exhibition and clinic to date. Over the past several months, plans have been developing to get an Atlanta league ready to play in the late spring and through the summer.
How you can give back: Help get WLAX ATL up and running by donating equipment, volunteering, offering venues and monetary donations at wlaxatl.com.
Keller Sheppard, 19, and Shockley Nunnery, 19
University of Georgia
Keller: Shockley and I began Operation I Care after a couple years of working with the Lions Lighthouse Foundation. We recognized the need for lightly used eyeglasses in impoverished areas of the world, whose access to optical healthcare is less than exemplary. We often go through multiple pairs of glasses throughout our lifetime as our vision changes, and as a result we can have many pairs that are useless to us, but life altering for others. This inspired us to set up drop boxes in churches and ophthalmologist offices throughout the greater Atlanta area to collect these unused glasses. We have since collected over 3,000 pairs of glasses.
Shockley: Since arriving at UGA, Keller and I have decided to shift the focus of our efforts. Athens Clarke County is home to one of the poorest areas of the country with a deplorable 36 percent of kids growing up in poverty. After a significant amount of research, we realized that there is a solid link between poverty and poor vision. We are now developing a policy to improve follow-up care for students failing school eye exams. Ultimately, we would like to see this policy alternative implemented on the county level.
How you can give back: You can set up an Operation I Care drop-box at your workplace, church or school by contacting Keller at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Used glasses can be shipped to 2571 Ashford Road, Atlanta, GA, 30319. Donations can also be made to our partners at the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation at lionslighthouse.org.
Martin Downing, 19
Grady High School
Some of the community activities that I participate in are the Old Fourth Ward Neighbors (O4WN) monthly meetings, Neighborhood Planning Unit monthly meetings and I’m also the Grady High School Swim Team manager. Through the O4WN, I volunteer at monthly cleanups. Recently, we cleaned up trash along Rankin Street and covered up graffiti around the Old Fourth Ward. I also participated in the initial Year of Boulevard cleanup, and I served food at the Butler Park neighborhood cookout that was held over the summer.
How you can give back: Get involved in your neighborhood association and volunteer for events. If you live in the O4W, visit o4w.net for more information.
Olivia Strader, 17
The Lovett School
I first got involved with National Charity League in 7th Grade. After that, I started getting more involved and in high school I started tutoring every week at Agape. Last year, Agape expressed a need for a girls summer program, so I created one. It was a girls’ leadership camp for middle school girls confronting issues such as gossip, peer pressure, family, friends and how to be a role model. I have also worked at City of Refuge doing the Feed and Read, by serving dinner and then reading to the children. I was also chosen to be on the Atlanta Junior Board of the Boys & Girls Club of Atlanta – Matthew’s Club. I’ve also an officer in Habitat for Humanity for the past two years and recently worked on a build for a single mother who needed a new shelter for her two sons. I love my volunteer work because it gets me involved with different communities and cultures in Atlanta.
How you can give back: Olivia is looking for assistance on various projects at the Boys & Girls Club, expanding the summer girls camp at Agape and recruiting volunteers for City of Refuge and Habitat. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anna Bass, 17
Greater Atlanta Christian School
For the past three summers, I have volunteered at Camp Big Heart, an overnight camp for mentally challenged kids and adults in Winder. The campers are the most loving, most awesome, and most extraordinary people I’ve ever met in my life. By volunteering at Camp Big Heart, I’ve worked to eliminate misconceptions by spreading my amazing experiences from Camp Big Heart and volunteering at the Winter and Spring Special Olympics hosted at my school every year. This year, I was chosen by my teachers to be one of two GACS seniors on the Atlanta Mission Junior Board to organize movie and game nights for the men who are sheltered there and receiving treatment.
How you can give back: Volunteer or make donations to Camp Big Heart at campbigheart.com or to the Atlanta Mission at atlantamission.org.
Courtney Burton, 18
Riverwood International Charter School
Since the seventh grade, I have been a part of the National Charity League in the Dunwoody Chapter. Through this mother/daughter organization, I began learning about the importance of service and giving back to your community. I have become a dedicated participant in multiple charity races such as the Kaiser Permanente 5 K Race and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure held in Atlanta each year. The most special part of community service is working closely with the people that I am helping, and therefore my favorite activities include serving the working poor through Feed and Seed at a local church and participating at the Community Action Center in the thrift shop or sorting the canned food. I am able to meet and learn about new people in my community, and rather than just hearing about the positive effect that community service has on my area, I am able to see it with my own eyes.
How you can give back: Make a donation or volunteer at the Community Action Center by calling (770) 552-4015 or visiting ourcac.org.
Gilbert Montana Young, 16
Grady High School
My work in the community is an extension of the work of my father, the artist Gilbert Young, and my mom, a public relations executive. I like public speaking, so I use this skill to reach out to kids who don’t have the opportunities I have had. When I was 12, I met Dr. C.T. Vivian and learned about his life as a civil rights and voting rights pioneer. I was asked to write and deliver a tribute to him for his 85th birthday. After that, Dr. Vivian asked me to visit and speak to the students at the C.T. Vivian Leadership Academy. I do this whenever I have the opportunity. As a family, we have donated money and our time to the Carrie Steele Pitts Home for children. I volunteered during the Home’s annual back-to-school drive to provide supplies for the kids and helped organize the 124th anniversary celebration of the home with my mom, and prepared art gifts for donors to the Home. Every year I help to donate food to the Hosea Feed the Hungry campaigns, and this year I helped to raise funds for many Georgia Democratic Party events to bring awareness to the importance of voter registration.
How you can give back: Make a donation to the Carrie Steel Pitts Home at csphp.org. For each donation to the home, readers will receive an art print by Gilbert Young or by the artist Carl Owens. To donate or volunteer to Hosea Feed the Hungry, visit 4hosea.org.
Koren Lewis, 16
The Lovett School
I love being involved in community service. I have volunteered and participated in community service activities at the Carl E Sanders YMCA as a teen leader and through the YMCA Mission ATL program. I have volunteered at My Sister’s House, Ronald McDonald House, Relay for Life, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, The Shepherd Center, The Agape Center, Project Horizon, Operation Lovejoy and others. I have performed community service at The Atlanta Community Food Bank and participated as a youth summit member addressing hunger and poverty in the community. I am a member of Jack and Jill, Inc., where I serve on the Teen Advisory Board and participate in various community service projects throughout the year, including Books for Africa, MLK Day of Service and Global Youth Day. I love mentoring young girls and I am always looking for ways to help Girl Talk grow each year. I am currently in the process of starting a Girl Talk chapter at my school. Thanks to Girl Talk, Inc. and the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, I started my service project called KORN SAC (Supporting a Cause). Through this project I have been able to prepare light snacks and provide toiletries to people in need, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Atlanta Mission.
How you can give back: Make a donation to Korn SAC at mygivingpoint.org/originalshaneakoren.
Mojid Salawu, 18
Georgia State University
The community service activities I’ve participated in that I am most fond of are Peer Tutoring, The Talented Tenth, and Jumpstart. Peer Tutoring is a program in which students aid their fellow classmates in developing learning techniques that they may have not been exposed to due to everyone’s varied learning backgrounds. The purpose of Peer Tutoring program is similar to that of another program I am involved in that was started by WEB Dubois in 1903, the Talented Tenth. The Talented Tenth is a group of gifted students who are supported by their communities in achieving higher education. Upon achieving higher education, they are to branch out and achieve success in different sectors of the society. Afterwards, they are all to return to their communities, reaching out to the future generations, mentoring them so they can all achieve a similar success, if not better. In 2009 my high school teacher, David Hardin, created the Talented Tenth program at South Atlanta Educational Complex in which I am a proud member. Jumpstart gave me the opportunity to speak with incoming high school freshman with hopes of giving them tips and strategies for achieving success in school. I was given the chance to speak about mistakes I made so that they could avoid obstacles that I encountered.
How you can give back: Mojid encourages readers to get involved with local tutoring programs, including Jumpstart at jstart.org.
Freedom Wright, 17
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School
I founded Free Your Mind to raise awareness of children in foster care, collect backpacks for middle and high schools youth in foster care and to encourage young people to volunteer at the Foster Care Support Foundation warehouse. So far, I have collected almost 300 backpacks. I started my volunteer work as a Girl Scout by volunteering with the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk. I am now a regular volunteer at St. Francis Table, The Atlanta Community Food Bank, Horizons Atlanta and of course the Girl Scouts. I also joined my classmates on a weekend mission trip to New Orleans to help victims of Hurricane Katrina last year and plan to go on the mission trip again this year.
How you can help: Drop off a backpack at Holy Innocents, 805 Mount Vernon Highway, NW, Atlanta, 30327 or get involved in the Foster Care Support Foundation by contacting director Rachel Ewald at Rachel@fostercares.org.
Perri Bonner, 17
Grady High School
I have volunteered for the Furkids animal resuce shelter every other week since I was 10 years old. I clean cages, socialize with the cats and have fostered animals that are waiting for their adoptive parents. I love animals and the fact that Furkids is a no-kill rescue; all animals are taken care of until we’re able to find a permanent home for them. Furkids has been flexible with my soccer schedule and allows me to switch shifts when mine coincide with games or travel. It’s been a great organization to volunteer with.
How you can give back: Make a donation to Furkids at any local Petsmart location or by visiting furkids.org.
Virginia Spinks, 18
DeKalb School of the Arts
The primary thing that I have done is to aid a local homeless ministry in being able to do their work through my leadership in the BETA Club. Teresa Hamilton has a homeless ministry in Atlanta and she devotes her life to helping the homeless in Atlanta. I help her do this by asking my BETA Club to help make peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches for her to then take out on the street to feed people. We also have had blanket and coat drives, and toiletry drives to aid her mission work. Whatever Teresa needs, I do my best to try and help her reach her goals. I’ve also volunteered at a recycling plant for Habitat for Humanity, tutored underclassmen and volunteered at my church, Briarcliff Baptist Church.
How you can give back: For more information or to make a donation toTeresa Hamilton’s homeless ministry, visit ladythomeless.com.
Victoria Hill, 17
Atlanta Girls’ School
The summer before my junior year, I worked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is a federal agency dedicated to eliminating work-place discrimination. I worked with an enforcement director and helped to try to ease the immense backlog. At school, I helped tutor a man who is getting his GED. I also help organize and run all of the home sports games. I run tech at many school events, including lights and sound. I’ve also volunteered at Habitat for Humanity and volunteered with Georgia’s WIN List, a political action committee that works to get Democratic women elected to office.
How you can give back: Make a donation to Georgia’s WIN List and get more involved by visiting gawinlist.com.
Henry Quillian, 18
The Westminster Schools
For as long as I can remember I have been serving my immediate community through the outreach programs at my church, Northwest Presbyterian, through my Boy Scout troop, and through my school. For years I have spent several nights each year serving meals at Clifton Sanctuary Men’s Shelter with my family, through my church, and recently I have volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and taken a church mission trip to Tornwell Children’s Home. This past spring, I went every Tuesday with my Spanish class to Garden Hills Elementary School where I helped tutor English to parents whose children attend the school and who spoke English as a second language. My largest undertaking to date has been my Eagle Scout project. I collected books to establish a library at the Kemna’Oj School in Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala as part of the From Houses to Home project. Through the help of my church, school, Boy Scout troop, family, and friends I was able to purchase and collect over 340 books and donate $5,000 for the maintenance of the library.
How you can give back: Make a donation to From Houses to Homes at fromhousestohomes.org and consider volunteering to help build a home in Guatemala.
Penelope Realff, 15
Grady High School
The summer before my freshman year I started working at Zoo Atlanta. I learned all about different animals and then started to tell guests about the animals. I not only got to inform guests about different animals but, I also got to work in horticulture. At the beginning of that year I also joined 21st Leaders at my school. This allowed me to do small projects on weekends. Later that year, around Christmas time, I started working weekly at my church. I work in the nursery every Sunday morning. I’ve also worked at Grady Hospital in the Marcus Stroke and Neurosurgery center and helped visitors checking in to see their family members.
How you can give back: Make a donation or volunteer at Zoo Atlanta by visiting zooatlanta.org. Volunteers are also needed at Grady. Find out more at gradyhealth.org/volunteer.
William C. Henagan, 18
The Lovett School
I have been involved with the Metro Atlanta Project (MAP) for six years, and it has had an amazing impact on my understanding of my civic responsibility. For several years, I spent the summers re-roofing homes in need of repair, and then later building playgrounds in public spaces in underserved areas around our city. At MAP I have served as a youth leader, meaning I have been in charge of around 30 youth/adult volunteers and tasked with completing a playground in one week’s time each of the last three summers. The Political Activism group I founded this year at school is dedicated to promoting political involvement in young people. We hosted a mock debate leading up to the November election, and we are currently working on a letter writing campaign to allow students to voice their opinions to local legislators.
How you can give back: Make a donation or volunteer at MAP by visiting MetroAtlantaProject.org.
Alexander Reckford, 17
I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity locally and internationally since my freshman year. I have led students on builds here in Atlanta, and also participated in builds in Zambia, Nicaragua and Cambodia. I wanted to share the experiences and impacts I had on the international builds with my classmates at Pace, so with the help of some of the faculty I created and led a trip to Jordan last spring to build a house in partnership with Habitat for Humanity International. The trip was such a success that Pace committed to making a Habitat build an annual trip. This spring, I am excited to lead a group of classmates on a build in Bolivia.
How you can give back: Donate to Habitat for Humanity International at habitat.org. You can also help Alexander make his trip to Bolivia possible by donating at share.habitat.org/alexander-reckford-bolivia-habitat-for-humanity