Rachel Wheeler, an 11-year-old from
Lighthouse Point, Fla., is living proof that a girl with a dream can accomplish
anything through hard work. We caught
up with Rachel to hear her truly remarkable story.
Who says kids can’t accomplish big things?
What she’s done
In 2009, Rachel went on a tour with her mom through Food For
The Poor (FFP), which, as Rachel describes it, “is an international non-profit
relief organization that concentrates on helping families get out of
poverty.” Rachel knew that Haiti
was a country that especially struggles with this issue. “I had heard of the poverty in Haiti
from my nana. She read a newspaper
article and it said that they were so desperate for food that the mothers would
feed their children mud cookies to stop them from crying of hunger.” After learning about FFP, she knew she
had to get involved.
Her family also helped her get started on her fundraising
efforts. They helped her hold
events at school and stands where she sold homemade items to raise money. Word of mouth was also important – an
e-mail campaign to friends and family, as well as the local news media, helped
publicize her efforts.
After she reached her initial fundraising goal, FFP approached
her with a new idea – would she like to build a village instead? Rachel’s response: “Uh-huh!” Rachel continued her fundraising efforts and made it
happen. As she explains, “I have
raised over $176,000, which allowed Food for the Poor to build 27 two-room
homes in a village, Rachel’s Village.”
Seeing the impact
In May of this year, Rachel was able to take a trip to see
her village, which is located in Leogane, Haiti. She saw the positive impact her work had in helping the
people who live there. As Rachel
describes, “It was really awesome to meet all the people there, because they
were so nice and they were so grateful and we could tell that they appreciated
what I did.” Meeting the people
inspired her to keep going and dream bigger. Rachel says, “After seeing my village in Haiti, I’m
convinced that building a school is my next step.”
Rachel has been recognized for her amazing volunteer
work. She was named a National
Honoree at the Prudential Spirit of Community awards, a yearly program that
recognizes middle level and high school students for outstanding community
service. Being recognized as a
National Honoree makes her one of America’s Top 10 Youth Volunteers for 2011. Not too shabby!
She has also inspired others to get involved and help out
the people of Haiti. When the
Florida Marlins baseball team caught wind of what Rachel was doing, they
couldn’t believe it. After meeting
her, they not only believed in Rachel and her goal, they decided to sponsor the
building of a village of their own!
What she knows
Rachel’s story may seem unbelievable, but she is proof that
you don’t have to wait to grow up to make big things happen. As she says, “I’ve learned that
anybody, any age, can make a difference and follow their dreams.”
She also knows that what’s important is not just having a dream, but acting on it. “If you
see something you want to do, you can’t just sit around and hope you can finish
it, you actually have to go out and do it,” she says. Taking bold actions is probably something she admires in one
of her inspirations, Taylor Swift – the queen of kind courage. “She inspires me, because she is
fearless,” Rachel says.
How to help
If you would like to get involved, Rachel suggests talking
to your parents, school, or clubs and asking them to help you put on a
fundraiser. You can donate to
Rachel’s FFP efforts at her website, www.foodforthepoor.com/rachel/donate.
For more information on the Prudential Spirit of Community
Awards and how to apply, click here.
BY MARIE HANSEN ON 9/18/2011 12:00:00 AM
POSTED IN Get Inspired, charity