I’m not sure how I want to contribute when I grow up, but one thing I’ve always known for sure is that I love to create and it feels really good to help others.
I’m lucky that my parents have always taught me the importance of giving back and have led by example. The first charitable act I did on my own was at my ninth birthday party. Instead of gifts, I asked my friends to bring donations so I could adopt as many panda bears as possible through the World Wildlife Fund. I was able to adopt four panda bears, and it felt pretty great. I’ve adopted many animals over the years through WWF and Heifer International.
In third grade my mom and I started volunteering with Family Promise, an organization that helps homeless families get back on their feet.While it made me very sad to see kids just like me living out of cars and having so little, I did enjoy getting to know the families and celebrating when they were able to leave the program and move into a home. I learned at a very early age that not everyone is as lucky as I am.
In fourth grade I became involved with Empty Bowls, an international grassroots effort to fight hunger, through All Faiths Food Bank. They have a big fundraiser each year in November where people can purchase a handmade bowl and then fill it with soup. I made several clay bowls at a local studio and had so much fun. When I heard that they still had lots of bowls that needed to be painted, I volunteered several weekends to go in and hand paint many, many bowls for the event.
In seventh grade I started taking sewing lessons, and I was hooked! I was eager to figure out a way I could use my new passion to help others. One day I came across an article in a local paper about this group of women who knit hats for people with cancer. I decided to make doll pillows for kids impacted by cancer. I approached Center for Building Hope with my idea, and they loved it. I made doll pillows for them for two years until sadly they closed.
Knowing the joy I get from sewing and that I love to give back, my sewing instructor, Anna, approached me about getting involved with Restore Innocence, a group that rescues girls from human trafficking. I was shocked to learn something as horrible as this existed; I had to get involved. So, each month I made quilt squares that were joined with other’s squares to make a beautiful one-of-a-kind quilt for one of the rescued girls. I enjoyed the work so much. It was my way of sending these girls a hug and letting them know someone cares. Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t allow me the time necessary for me to still be doing this work.
In 2014 I joined the Community Youth Development Volunteen board, a local non-profit that advocates teen community involvement. That same year I also formed EMPOWERU, a community action program that takes on issues important to teenagers throughout Sarasota. And, in 2015 I joined the advisory board of national non-profit Stop Sexual Assault In Schools (SSAIS). In 2016 I began tutoring and mentoring young girls at Girls Inc., became involved with Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s newest mental health project “FACE-ing Mental Illness: The Art of Acceptance,”and started making inspirational bracelets for girls rescued from human trafficking through Selah Freedom.
I created this site as my digital scrapbook to keep those interested up to date on what I’m working on. The scope has gone beyond just my sewing volunteer work, which was the inspiration for its original creation. But, I love this site so much I wanted to keep it just as it is. I hope you like what you see!