Palmer Trinity junior Marina Bryant has acquired more than 5,000 community service hours as a result of her work with the Chapman Partnership for the Homeless. She has done so much volunteer work with organization that she won the Red Cross Spectrum Youth Award.
Bryant became involved with the Chapman Partnership when she was in the ninth grade and began visiting the shelter to help feed the homeless.
“I found that I knew one of the girls who was dining there,” she says. “Her family couldn’t afford food and a place to live, so they were living at the shelter. Her mother couldn’t find a job.”
The two girls were in elementary school together and Bryant says the girl’s family ended up in the shelter because her brother and her father went to war in Afghanistan; the father never came back.
Many teens would have sympathized for a former classmate’s plight and moved on, but not Bryant. Instead, she started an organization called Adopt-A-Family that helped her former schoolmate and her family move out of the shelter.
“I started the Adopt A Family toward the middle of my year in the 10th grade,” she says.
Today the club raises money to assist a family living at the shelter by helping to pay some living expenses for the six months.
“You have to pay $48 a month to live in the shelter,” Bryant says. “So we pay for the first six months, until they are able to find a job. We raise money by having bake sales and food sales, and through donations.”
Bryant is hoping to be able to help three families during the current school year. Not only does Bryant run the Palmer club to help the homeless, she also visits the shelter every other week to help feed the homeless. She also organizes monthly events for the children living at the shelter.
“I usually get really emotional when I talk about it,” she says. “I feel that by helping them, it helps me as well. I become more grateful for what I have.”
Bryant’s community service doesn’t end with the homeless shelter. She participates in other community service projects with Students Offering Support (SOS), a coed service club. She also teaches English for Breakthrough Miami every other Saturday. The program helps disadvantaged children by giving them additional educational opportunities throughout the year and in the summer. And she is involved in school clubs, too.
“I’m in Best Buddies and I’m also involved with student government as executive community service chair,” she says. “I also plan events. If someone has a request for a community service event, I plan it for them so they can do it.”
Bryant’s volunteer work also includes helping fellow students with their writing. She helps staff the Center for Writing twice a week. Students who need assistance stop by and get help with their essays or term papers.
Bryant is also an athlete and plays golf and softball. While Palmer did not have a girls’ golf team this academic year, she was able to play in the tournaments that allowed her to qualify individually. She also plays left field on the softball team and is a very strong hitter. She has been on the team since she was in the ninth grade.
— By Linda Bernfeld Rodriguez
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