Edison Teen Wins Caring Award

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EDISON—On the evening of Thursday, April 2, Avani Patel of Edison attended the Middlesex County Guidance Council’s 22nd Annual Recognition Program, where she received the Caring Award for outstanding service to our communities and those in need.

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Caring Volunteer—Avani Patel of Edison, a senior at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School, is pictured with Kevin P. Farrell, Middlesex County Guidance Council President, and Shirlie Camp, Chairperson of the Caring Award, after receiving the Caring Award at the organization’s 22nd Annual Recognition Program on the evening of Thursday, April 2.

At Wardlaw-Hartridge, Patel serves as senior class president and peer leader to freshmen. As vice-president last year and president this year of Club Interact, she has participated in a number of community-based programs designed to reach out to those in need, including the Birthday Club, which makes cards and treats for those children affiliated with Naomi’s Way Transitional Housing Program in New Brunswick, designed to serve homeless mothers.

As part of Club Interact, Patel attended a Johnson and Johnson Blood Drive Summit in order to learn more about how to hold a successful blood drive. With her new-found knowledge, Patel and her team set a new record with the largest number of donors Wardlaw-Hartridge has ever seen in their most recent drive.

For several years, she has volunteered at the Brighton Gardens Nursing Home, helping the elderly by organizing games, activities and reading to them. Avani is also a member of People to People International: Helping Our World from Edison, an independent organization that is designed to help those in need. This group arranges a number of activities such as benefit walks, bike rides, food and clothing drives and much more.

Patel’s passion, however, lies in writing, and she participated in a creative writing day workshop for younger children over the summer of 2008 in order to impassion and encourage the next generation to pick up a pen and make a change with their words.

“While I am certainly grateful to the Middlesex County Guidance Council for awarding this distinction to me, it is not the certificate that makes me proud; it is rather the reminder of the notion that change is possible that lifts my spirits,” said Patel.

“To be completely honest, I had begun volunteering simply because I thought that’s what colleges were looking for. What I had failed to anticipate, however, was how much I would come to enjoy volunteering. I found myself not only spending extra time at the nursing home where I started my efforts, but also taking up leadership positions in our school’s community service clubs. Ironically, had I not selfishly volunteered in order to improve my resume, I would have never discovered the unselfish joy in community service,” she added. “This change in heart is reflective of the change that I am now inspired to make in the world. Whether it be changing a frown into a smile, a 50 to 51 on a blood donor total, or a shelter into a home, I want to make an impact on my environment, and do not plan to cease my efforts until that is achieved.”

Patel concluded, “To be recognized for my efforts does not symbolize the completion of my volunteering career, but rather acts as a healthy reminder that it is never too late to change yourself or your environment. As Ghandi once said, ‘find a place to stand and move the world.’ While my activities are fluid, my stance is now constant, but I hope that this fact in itself will move the world to do the same.”

Avani is the daughter of Rajendra and Urvashi Patel of Edison.


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