A few weeks ago, we met Tess at the Beaches Rotary Club where she and Patti were both nominated and awarded the “2016 Local Heroes Award.” We're so impressed by all of her accomplishments at such a young age... we had to bring her into the office and get to know her better!
We believe that one small act can change someone's entire life... and she is definitely changing many! Tess is only a junior in high school, but she's not letting her age hold her back! She has started two non-profits, Project Storybook and Project Play.
1. Tell us about your non-profits…why you started them and how you got them going!
I started Project Storybook in 8th grade. My brother was volunteering at Beaches Habitat for Humanity and always came home so excited. I wanted to get involved but you had to be 16 to help with building so I asked what else I could do to help out. I thought about books and how they could be of need to the children that move in. I’ve always believed that having books for your parents to read to you is something that every kid deserves to have.
2. What’s the most memorable story you have experienced through your volunteer work?
I remember one of the boys that received a bag of books was so embarrassed and not excited at all. Most kids look at what they got when they see the bag of four or five books, but this boy just put the bag to the side. But I later found a picture of him looking at his books when no one else was looking…it was so cute!
3. What are some challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Making that first step of reaching out and having the confidence to speak to adults and conquer my fear of public speaking.
4. What keeps you inspired?
Just seeing the reactions on the kids faces and how thankful the parents are for what they’re getting…and also working with a club I started called “Sharks and Minnows” where we mentor kids in low-income housing in Jax Beach. Seeing how many relationships are being formed inspires me to keep it going and pass the leadership off to someone else when I leave for college!
5. What advice do you have for other girls to do something similar?
Recognize where you see something that you want to get involved in and don’t let anything hold you back because there is so much that you can achieve if you just keep going. Let your voice be heard!
6. How can people help?
We accept monetary donations which can be given directly through our fundraising website here!
Thank you so much for coming in, Tess!!