Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Together, We Can Change the World

Name: Alyssa Mackenzie Donofrio
From: Pensacola, Florida
Grade: High School Senior and Dual Enrolled College Student
School: Pensacola State College
Votes: 0

Together, We Can Change the World

Alyssa Mackenzie Donofrio

In my personal life and my career, my main goal in life is to help
people. I heard someone say that a small group could change the
world. I believe that.

I began this journey when I was in 8th
grade and participated in my first (of five) Hunger Challenges, a
program which seeks to bring attention to food insecurity in the
world. I fasted food for 24 hours and collected food and money for
the homeless.

I have over 600 hours in volunteer service. I have volunteered as a
summer camp counselor for elementary students. I was also a camp
counselor at a camp for severely handicapped children and assisted a
young girl with Cerebral Palsy with her basic everyday needs: eating,
dressing, brushing her teeth, etc. I volunteered at church and
community Easter egg hunts, fall festivals, vacation bible schools,
and Sunday school classes.

I have also participated in a youth group that P.R.A.N.K.s (Practice
Random Acts of Necessary Kindness) community members. We have left an
$80 tip (which we saved ourselves) for a few waitresses at a nearby
Waffle House, given out Christmas goodie bags to random strangers at
a McDonald’s, and bought a homeless man a meal.
tornadoes struck our community in a devastating way, my youth group
and I prepared meals for the victims and passed out the meals in the
neighborhood close to our church. We had some leftover meals, so
those were taken to a local homeless shelter.

I recently discovered the field of Art Therapy. I plan to become an Art
Therapist, but I did not want to wait until I finished school. I
read about adolescence being a major time of tobacco usage onset and
thought Art Therapy could help. I researched the risk factors of
tobacco usage and realized that several elementary school students in
my church had multiple risk factors. I designed an Art Therapy
experience for them, ending with the students drawing pictures of
themselves as warriors, standing strong against tobacco. I am
contacting other churches in my area to take the same program to
their at-risk members.

My biggest challenge to volunteerism is becoming so aware of all of the
suffering in the world. It is hard to know that others are lacking
in their basic needs – food, love, and education. Looking forward
means looking around us, right now, to see what we can do to help
make sure that all people have their basic needs satisfied in the

I have been lucky and have never been deprived of anything – food,
love, or education, but many others have been. As we look forward as
communities, we need to learn to tackle social problems together. I
believe that a unified community can change the world in a real and
tangible way. When I look back on my activities, I believe that I
will be able to see my part in a strong, cohesive local community.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".