This summer, Sea Cliff’s Maddy DePietro volunteered at the Guardian Angel Family Crisis Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the community’s women and children with the resources they need to survive when they have fallen on hard times. She worked with children, tutoring them in math, writing and spelling. Many of those children came from non-English speaking homes, so she knew the work she was doing was important.
A senior at North Shore High School, DePietro has spent much of her life doing charity work. According to her mother, Molly DePietro, their family used to spend summers at Orient Point in Suffolk. There, Maddy and her sister Grace met underprivileged children of migrant workers, and the two took to social media, asking for clothing donations for those children. Maddy said spending her summer with Guardian Angel was an easy decision, as she wanted to volunteer at a place close to home.
About two years ago, Guardian Angel’s founder and president Barbara Costello, of Glen Head, began working with leaders in the city of Comayagua, Honduras, setting up an extension of Guardian Angel to send resources to the city’s children. Through the foundation’s resale boutique, the foundation ships donated clothes, toys and money to those children. Now, Costello said she is working on creating a community center where those children can eat and use running water while their parents are working, and when DePietro found out, she knew she wanted to help.
DePietro decided to set up a 5K run at NSHS to raise money for the center, which will take place on Sept. 14. She runs cross country and winter and spring track, so she said, a run was something that naturally came to her. She has titled the event “Teens 4 Kids,” as she has worked with her fellow teenaged intern volunteers to get the 5K off the ground.
In addition to a community center, Guardian Angel will also be working on a community garden and a school in Comayagua. DePietro said one of the biggest factors in her decision to create the fundraiser was her ability to help open doors for those children through education. She said many of the privileges she has enjoyed throughout her life are a result of schooling, and she wants others to have the same opportunities.
“All of these opportunities are opened up to me through education,” DePietro said, “and just to know that these kids can get opportunities closer to the ones I can makes me feel really good.”
Molly said Maddy is also working on creating a video to spread online, calling for further donations for the children in Comayagua. She said this process has been a “cool” one for her daughter, as it shows that she can actually do something to help the world at her age. So much of being a teenager is preparation for adulthood, she said, whether it be getting ready for college or to figure out one’s career path. Organizing this fundraiser is proof that teens can actively change the world at any time, not just in the future.
Looking into that future, though, Molly said her daughter will always be helping with outreach programs no matter where she finds herself. Whether it be in college or adulthood, she will never be far from her next charitable endeavor.
“She’s just one of these kids [for whom] it’s always going to be a part of what she is,” Molly said, later adding, “It’s empowering to be able to do something.”
The Teens 4 Kids 5K at NSHS starts at 1 p.m. at 450 Glen Cove Ave. in Glen Head. Registration for the run — or walk — is $25 per person, and participants who register at www.gafcc.org/teens-4-kids-5k-run-walk can take home a t-shirt.