Foundation Awards Greater Philadelphia Cappies Scholarship

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Xandra Coleman (right) performing in Phoenixville High School’s production of Radium Girls

The Casey Feldman Foundation is proud to have awarded its annual  Cappies Scholarship* to Xandra Coleman from Phoenixville High School! The announcement was made at the annual Greater Philadelphia Cappies Gala, which is a Tonys-like awards show celebrating the end of another successful season of high school theater in the Greater Philadelphia region. In addition to her involvement in theater, writing and a multitude of activities, it was Xandra’s passion for service work that caught the eye of the Foundation in awarding the scholarship that bears Casey’s name.

Xandra was nominated for the Foundation scholarship by Christine Tavani, German and Theatre Arts Teacher at Phoenixville High School in a recommendation which follows:

Xandra is a senior at Phoenixville Area High School. Throughout the last four years, she was completely involved in what the High School had to offer:  Theater Guild, theater productions, marching band, jazz band, National Honors Society, Academic Team, and, of course, Cappies. In the community at large, she worked with the Camphill Community involving adults with mental disabilities and has picked up marathon running.  She has cataloged over 4,000 hours in extracurricular activities and 1,500 hours of volunteer work in addition to holding down a job and maintaining a high academic standard. The plethora of activities certainly permits for a sturdy college resume, but her involvement is not at all about strengthening her biography, but strikes closer to her desire to grow through experience, show compassion for her community, and be committed to bolstering the people around her.

Due to her passion for service work, she has taken advantage of the opportunities to tutor local kids, help run school events, fundraise for charities, and – her personal favorite – develop relationships with the people in the Camphill Community in Kimberton.  The villagers of Camphill can have a wide range of developmental delays from autism to Down’s Syndrome, but each of them has a unique range of skills and a delightful personality. The enriching atmosphere causes Xandra to look forward to volunteering in their sustainable community each summer. However, the service project she is most proud of comes in the form of Suicide Prevention Trainings for youth. In her high school career, she has unfortunately recognized the desperate need for proper suicide prevention training for students. Therefore, in her senior year she made the effort to develop and present trainings to local youth ages twelve to eighteen as part of her senior service project for school.

After three years of dedicated involvement with her school activities, in her senior year she was also chosen for numerous leadership positions including Theater Guild Leader, Band President, National Honors Society Parliamentarian, Marching Band Section Leader, along with Lead Cappie. Xandra strived for these positions not for the status, but for the opportunity to grow and support the organizations she has come love. Many of her classmates have witnessed her tireless work ethic which includes reading textbooks on the bus rides to events, finishing homework in those five minute intervals before a rehearsal starts, and racing back and forth to club meetings. As a result of her efforts, she has been honored in being awarded the National School Marching Award and Student of the Month, winning the Martin Luther King Jr Expressions Contest for her essay, and having her Cappie reviews published.  There is no doubt that she has given her all to the Phoenixville community.

She will be spending this following year living with a host family in Senegal, learning a new language and culture, doing service work in the form of an apprenticeship with a local organization, and earning college credit. She hopes this will foster a matured world view as she pursues a major in international affairs and environmental studies with the hope of a future career with the United Nations. She credits her experiences with the Cappies program for developing her voice as a writer, a voice which will continue to speak as she blogs about her experiences abroad, writes essays for colleges, and, one day, as she represents our country in the global community.

Congratulations Xandra and thank you Christine Tavani for nominating such an outstanding student!

Xandra Coleman working with area youth

Casey’s parents, Dianne Anderson and Joel Feldman, announcing Xandra Coleman as the Casey Feldman Foundation Cappies Scholarship recipient

Casey (red) and the entire cast of Springfield High School’s Odd Couple were among the many memorial photos displayed as the Foundation scholarship was being announced

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*Casey was involved in every high school theater production at Springfield High School (SHS) from her sophomore year through graduation. She was the lead critic from SHS for the Cappies, with reviews published in The Philadelphia Inquirer and as well as in local papers. In 2006 Casey accepted the Cappie award for the entire SHS cast of the Odd Couple which won best play. Casey was also nominated for a Cappie herself for her role in that production as Gwendolyn Pigeon.

View all of the prior Foundation articles on the Cappies and its scholarship recipients.

 

My Alternative Spring Break in New Orleans – A Rewarding and Unforgettable Experience

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

By Tim Inthavong*

My fellow CU volunteers and I while working with Common Ground Relief

There are significant moments that change a person’s life and how they view the world, and my Alternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans was an unforgettable experience that I will remember forever. I am truly grateful to the Casey Feldman Foundation for funding my trip with a scholarship stipend which enabled me to volunteer to help a community and environment in need.

At the outset, my fellow volunteer students and I from the University of Colorado Boulder worked with the nonprofit, Common Ground Relief  headquartered in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Founded initially in 2005 to provide disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina, Common Ground has since revised it’s mission to reflect a forward-looking focus to restore and preserve Louisiana’s disappearing coastal wetlands. Wetlands are crucial to prevent flooding since they hold water much like a sponge, helping to keep river waters normal, and slowly releasing water when levels are low. In addition to many other benefits, the wetlands provide a habitat for a diverse group of wildlife.

After being introduced to the environmental issues affecting the Lower Ninth Ward community due to Hurricane Katrina, our group worked at a plant nursery where we watered and removed weeds from bull grasses that would be used to restore the wetlands. My favorite and most rewarding  experience was then actually planting the bull grasses onto the wetland floor.

In the wetlands where we worked to plant bull grasses

At first, I felt uncomfortable and was in fact, very nervous to physically plant them. I worried about the difficulty in moving through all of the thick algae and the uncertainty as to how deep I was swimming. I continued however, and planted the grasses. I felt great satisfaction afterwards in knowing that I had contributed to helping to restore the wetlands and mitigate the effects of a future hurricane on the people of New Orleans. The experience had another strong impact on me as well, in that it served as a learning opportunity.  I realized that it’s okay to be scared in a new and uncomfortable situation and that by proceeding in the face of it, I can conquer that fear.

My group also performed volunteer work at Crevasse 22, an indoor and outdoor art exhibit with an ecological theme.  It sits in a natural area of forests and marshes and contains a deep lake, created by a crevasse, or breach in the levee in 1922.  It is steps away from the Mississippi River and borders St. Bernard State Park. Our work there was to uproot and get rid of  invasive plants damaging the natural habitat of wildlife. This service that was done was the most difficult, but it was extremely rewarding to know that our work was supporting a safe environment for animals to live and grow their population. I thought of Casey Feldman and her love of animals and how my work there was made possible through the Foundation established in her memory. It was deeply gratifying knowing that I was honoring and continuing her legacy.

My Alternative Spring Break trip also afforded me the opportunity to create and build new relationships.  My group and I traveled together in a van for 40 hours round-trip from Boulder, Colorado and lived and worked together the entire week. I did not know any of my fellow volunteers when the trip began, but, by the end of the week, I had 15 close friends  –  David Ruin, Julia Book, Tyler Ennis, Danya Arie, Diantha McAllister, Elise Warnock, Emma Blanken, Feben Kassahun, Hiba Abdali, Jose Canizares, Julia Smith, Maggie Hearn, Marissa Kelly, Mohammed, Pujan Tandukar, Vladimir Brizuela. Without them, the service week would not have been as enriching an experience.

I came into this trip far from my community in Westminster, Colorado not knowing much about the environmental issues facing the people of New Orleans and it’s wildlife habitat. But, by at the end of the week, I had gained so much knowledge about the issues facing the people of Louisiana 12 years after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation.

As I get older and look back at this trip, I can say “I really made in impact on others.”  It makes me smile to know that I made a difference through an experience that I was able to share with others. Above the clouds, I picture Casey Feldman smiling too.

On the site of Crevasse 22 where we worked to remove invasive species

In the forest at Crevasse 22

 

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*Tim Inthavong just completed his junior year at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is studying economics and business and would like to work  for a hospital as a health administrator after graduating. He is one of five children of a single refugee mother whom he has worked to support in and around his studies and volunteer work.

Immigrant Scholarship Recipient Hopes to Pursue a Medical Career

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

By Morgan Steward*

 

Our Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipient, Gabriela Solano Serna has had to overcome many challenges in her young life. Emigrating from Mexico at age 10, Gabriela and her family left behind everything in order to start a new life in the United States. Unable to receive any government aid, including food stamps, medical care or scholarships through FAFSA, Gabriela and her family have struggled to make ends meet. But, instead of discouraging Gabriela, it has motivated her to volunteer in her community to make a difference for those facing hardships like her family.

The Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship stipend enabled Gabriela to travel to Atlanta last year over her spring break to work with the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition (AHRC). The alternative spring break trip was one of many organized by the Volunteer Resource Center at the University of Colorado Boulder where Gabriela is a student. The AHRC  works to build relationships with individuals who are either suffering from or in danger of contracting HIV/AIDS, STD’s and Hepatitis Viruses and is the only comprehensive harm reduction program in the entire state of Georgia.

During her week in Atlanta, Gabriela did a lot of hands-on work with the coalition in underprivileged communities and visited the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn about the long-term benefits of the work she just participated in. One activity in particular stood out to Gabriela—a needle exchange. A needle exchange is a program that provides drug users with clean needles to prevent them from sharing and re-using contaminated needles, thus drastically lowering the chance of spreading diseases like HIV and AIDS.

“We helped distribute and make safety packs, which [are handed out] to individuals during the needle exchange in a poor community known as the ‘Bluff,’” Gabriela explained.  “After visiting and interacting with individuals from this neighborhood, I was able to see the unprivileged side of the community and learn how the state plays a role in helping the community.”

“I would say that this opportunity helped me—it was definitely an eye opener, but [also] a motivation to pursue a career in the medical field,” Gabriela explained. She hopes to use her talents to become an Obstetrician Gynecologist to honor her sister who passed away in Mexico due to the lack of medical attention.

So what does this remarkable scholarship recipient hope to accomplish in the future? “I am passionate about providing medical care to those in the US that struggle every day to sustain families and who do not have as much access to adequate medical assistance, public benefits (like Medicare) or health care insurance as other privileged groups do,” Gabriela said. As an undocumented immigrant herself, Gabriela’s future plans also include opening a clinic to provide medical assistance, regardless of the patients’ immigration status.

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morga -steward*Morgan Steward is a sophomore Communication and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (Casey’s alma mater). Born in Beaumont, TX, she to moved to New York City to pursue a career in the media. She is the Arts & Culture Co-Editor of The Observer, Fordham’s student newspaper (where Casey was the News Editor).

The Faces of our 2018 Alternative Spring Break Scholarship Recipients

Friday, March 30th, 2018

By Dianne Anderson*

Spring break is underway at many colleges in the nation. Our University of Colorado Boulder scholarship recipients are off on their Alternative Spring Break – volunteering in various parts of the U.S., with funding made possible through the Casey Feldman Foundation. Take a look at these outstanding young people.

Jaela Zellers

Jaela Zellers – Jaela is a junior majoring in integrative physiology with a double minor in Spanish and women and gender studies, with the hopes of becoming a physician.  A native of Georgia, Jaela has consistently worked 3-4 part-time jobs while taking 18 credit hours per semester. Despite her own hardships at home, sometimes not knowing where her next meal would come from, Jaela has managed to help others through filling boxes of food for the needy or helping build a home through Habitat for Humanity. Zaela works at the Volunteer Resource Center on campus and is currently organizing a service project focused on women’s empowerment for the Better Boulder Day of Service. Jaela’s Alternative Spring Break is in environmental conservation where she is working to protect the habitat and build trails on Catalina Island, CA.

Nicole Fernandez-Perez

 

Nicole Fernandez-Perez – Nicole is a senior and a first generation college student majoring in psychology and minoring in ethnic studies. She currently works with Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) in Boulder where she supports survivors of domestic violence. Nicole is also a part of Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority Inc.,  where she works to preserve Latina culture in the Latino communities near the CU campus. Nicole is participating in the Disability Advocacy Spring Break Trip in Springfield, Missouri where she is working with a non-profit that focuses on building self-esteem, self confidence and social skills in children and adults with disabilities through education, sports training and competition.

 

Jose “Santos” Navarro

Jose “Santos” Navarro –  Santos, a first-generation American, is a freshman majoring in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology with ultimate hopes of working one day in the Astrobiology Institute at  NASA. Throughout high school, Santos was an outdoor counselor who helped at-risk 5th graders from schools in troubled areas. Often, his biggest responsibility there was to simply be a source of support for the children by listening and hearing their stories. Santos’ Alternative Spring Break has taken him to Houston, TX where he is working in disaster relief, helping to rebuild homes and the community in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane which occurred last year. In looking forward to his week in Houston, Santos stated, “I can’t wait to represent CU Boulder and carry on the values of service through our actions.”

Tim Inthavong

Tim Inthavong –  Tim is a junior studying economics and business and hopes to work one day for a hospital as a health administrator. Tim is the child of a single refugee mother with four siblings and has always worked to help support his family. Despite this, Tim has found time to volunteer in and around his work and studies. Whether working with low income communities by teaching youth about the sciences, or volunteering on Saturdays at the Have A Heart food and clothing bank, Tim feels best when he can be of service to others. Tim’s Alternative Spring Break is taking place in New Orleans, LA where he is helping to rebuild homes for the needy. As he was leaving for the trip, Tim said, “I can’t wait to make a difference!”

 

Thank you Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipients for making a difference in the lives of others! We look forward to hearing about your service work upon the completion of your trips!

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Dianne and Casey, Christmas 2006

 

*Dianne Anderson  is the mother of the late Casey Feldman and co-founder of The Casey Feldman Foundation.

Casey Feldman Foundation Fordham Scholarship Recipient Interns at Philanthropic Fashion Magazine

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

By Jaela Zellars*

Emma Childs

For Emma Childs, the proud 2018 recipient of the Casey Feldman Foundation Fordham College Lincoln Center (FCLC) scholarship, the sky’s the limit when it comes to her dream of growing her own fashion and art publication. Currently a sophomore at FCLC, Emma has been working as the Editor-In-Chief for her own magazine since 2013 when she was just a high school student. Despite working hard to maintain a stellar GPA she has done an amazing job of balancing her academic life with her professional life.

The Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship provides funding for Emma to be paid for her internship this semester as a Fashion Media & Editorial Intern with Mission Magazine in NYC. Mission Magazine combines fashion and philanthropy,  donating all of the proceeds from their publication to theme-related charities such as women’s empowerment and environmental justice. Emma’s position at Mission Magazine is dynamic in nature and entails researching products, contacting contributors, creating presentations and databases, as well as assisting with the creative content produced. She’s involved in a little bit of every aspect of their media.

Working for Mission Magazine has not been Emma’s first experience in the world of Media, Fashion, & Communications. In the four years prior to receiving this internship she had another unpaid internship with The Current Quarterly which is located on Cape Cod and uses the fashion industry to support local businesses. While working with The Current Quarterly, Emma was able to thoroughly embrace the fashion world by doing tasks such as organizing fashion shows, writing fashion-related editorials for various issues of the publication, as well as contributing her own personal blog posts for the publication’s website. Emma found her niche in the fashion world and she has fully owned it.

After graduating from Fordham, Emma hopes to dive back into her magazine, Childs Play,  that she put on hold in order to focus on her Mission Magazine internship. The Casey Feldman Scholarship will now allow Emma to explore her dreams with fewer financial stressors so that she can continue to give her all to everything that she does within and outside of her internship.

We look forward to watching Emma do amazing things for herself and the world around her!

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*Jaela Zellars is a junior at The University of Colorado Boulder (CU), majoring in integrative physiology and double minoring in Spanish and Women and Gender Studies. She currently works as a Peer Mentor in the Multicultural Living and Learning Community as well as the Volunteer Resource Center at CU where she uses her position to engage first-year students in community service work.

Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship Recipient Learns About Forest Preservation

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

By Jaela Zellers*

Alice Haugland

Alice Haugland was one of two recipients of this past year’s Casey Feldman Foundation PIIE (Public Interest Internship Experience) Scholarship, which enabled her to intern for the summer with the Council of Western State Foresters. Through our PIIE scholarship program, students receive a stipend to work with a non-profit or government agency, which does not have the funding to pay student interns. The Council of Western State Forester’s, based in Denver, CO, is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of state, territorial and commonwealth foresters whose role is to protect, conserve and enhance Western and Pacific Island forests.

A Colorado native and currently a junior at The University of Colorado Boulder (CU), Alice is in the Leeds School of Business, majoring in Operations and Information Management with a minor in Economics and a certificate in Socially Responsible Enterprise. Alice came to CU with the intention of working for a non-profit after graduation and interned her freshman year at Goodwill in New York City.  She describes her experience at The Council of Western State Foresters as “extremely meaningful and engaging” where she “had the opportunity to learn about Western forestry, the environment, and the experience of working with a nonprofit organization”.

As a communications intern, most of Alice’s day-to-day tasks included updating and generating content for the organization’s social media platforms and website as well as tracking analytics. In addition to assisting in the day-to-day operations, Alice was able to work on more long-term projects as well. One of her favorites included helping to edit and revise a written publication on Urban & Community Forestry, summarizing videos regarding forestry in the Pacific Islands, and developing out a social media campaign.

Alice looks forward to a lifelong career of working with nonprofits,  making her a well-deserving recipient The Casey Feldman Foundation PIIE Scholarship. We give our best wishes to Alice in all of her future endeavors!

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*Jaela Zellars is a junior at The University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in integrative physiology and double minoring in Spanish and Women and Gender Studies. She currently works as a Peer Mentor in the Multicultural Living and Learning Community as well as the Volunteer Resource Center at CU where she uses her position to get first-year students engaged in service work.

 

Cappies Scholarship Recipient, India Henderson, Wows the Crowd and The Casey Feldman Foundation

Friday, February 9th, 2018

By Jaela Zellars

India Henderson

As high school students are perfecting their performances for the spring theater season, we take this opportunity to recognize India Henderson, our 2017 Greater Philadelphia Cappies Scholarship recipient. The Cappies, in which Casey was involved while at Springfield High School,  is an international awards program that trains and recognizes high school theatre and journalism students. India certainly grabbed our attention for this scholarship, which the Foundation has awarded since 2011.*

India Henderson managed to stand out from the crowd while attending The Westtown School,  thanks to her talents as both an outstanding actress and Cappies critic.  Since her sophomore year,  India was a lead in several of her high school’s productions. One of her most notable performances took place during a production of Kiss Me Kate,  where something as simple as her entrance onto the stage earned her multiple rounds of applause. As a Cappies critic, India’s multiple reviews of other high school performances were published in local new media.

This incredibly talented and accomplished actress, writer, and critic has also been a student leader with a passion for diversity and inclusion.  Those who think fondly of India have said that “India truly values the meaning of teamwork and collaboration; she pulls in others and elevates their voice. ”

Now a freshman at The University of Richmond, social justice is not a new topic of discussion for India. For years, India has been a very active member of the Children’s International Summer Villages Program which uses summer camps to build peace and understanding in a multicultural setting. India is very proud of who she is as a young black woman and during high school she used her position as the student body president to facilitate conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, amongst a community of students who had very limited exposure to the subject matter.

One of India’s most notable strengths is  that she is always looking to challenge and improve herself. During her 10th grade year, she took on the position of Work Program Head, a position that involved a lot of uncomfortable conversations between her and her peers about them not meeting community responsibilities. She knew that expanding her leadership roles would allow her to escape the clutches of her comfort zone, and it has helped her to evolve into a wonderful, empathetic, and self-sufficient leader within her community.

Despite her commitment to so many extracurricular activities, India was able to maintain an outstanding GPA. Her ability to recognize when she needs to pull back on her activities to focus on her academics has been a tremendous skill for her that has and will continue to take her very far in life.

The grace and strength in which India has been able to handle adversity and still come out on top is what makes India not only a great Cappie, but also a well-deserving Casey Feldman Scholar.

*The Foundation began awarding a Cappies scholarship in 2011, two years after Casey was tragically killed by a distracted driver. Casey  became Springfield High School’s (SHS) first lead critic in 2005 and was nominated for a Cappie herself for best actress at the 2006 Gala for her participation in Springfield High School’s production of “The Odd Couple. She accepted the Cappie that year on behalf of the entire Odd Couple cast, which won the Cappie for best play.  In 2010, Casey was awarded an honorary Cappie that was accepted by her parents on her behalf.

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Jaela Zellars is a junior at The University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in integrative physiology and double minoring in Spanish and Women and Gender Studies. She currently works as a Peer Mentor in the Multicultural Living and Learning Community as well as the Volunteer Resource Center at CU where she uses her position to get first-year students engaged in service work.

Cassie Sprong Helps Young Boys Experience the Great Outdoors

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

By Jaela Zellers*

Cassie Sprong

University of Colorado Boulder Sophomore and Alternative Breaks participant Cassandra “Cassie” Sprong has been a major advocate for service work for many years of her life. From joining her high school’s Service Learning Club to going on an Alternative Spring Break Trip to Santa Cruz, California, Cassie is certainly no stranger to the joys of volunteering. She is currently a member of the CU Boulder Service Learning Club, which sends college students out to schools around Boulder to tutor native Spanish-speaking students. In her own words, Cassie believes that “Service is not ‘giving back’— rather, it’s working together to improve”.

Cassie’s passion for service work can be traced back to when she was around the age of 9 years old, during a very memorable experience in which she was walking around Denver with a friend and noticed that there were many individuals who were in need of some form of assistance, whether it was housing, food, shelter, or all of the above. Her solution to this was to make enough sack lunches to feed at least 20 people around that same area. The fact that such a simple gesture of humanity was able to improve the lives of so many less fortunate individuals in her own community gave Cassie the boost of confidence that she needed to make volunteering a life-long passion. This experience has led her to participate in even larger and more impactful service projects such as building a house for a low-income family with her high school Service Learning Club in Tijuana, Mexico.  At such a young age, she possessed an amazing sense of awareness of the injustices in the world around her as well as a desire to make that world a little better.

Cassie, who has always been inspired by her passion for biology and the environment, is currently majoring in Integrative Physiology. During the Spring of 2017, she was chosen as a recipient of the Casey Feldman Scholarship which allowed her to attend the Alternative Spring Break Trip that was focused on youth science education at YMCA Camp Campbell in CA. During her Alternative Spring Break trip, she and a group of about 9 other highly motivated and driven CU students spent their days hiking through the Redwood Forest and teaching 6th grade boys about the importance of preserving and respecting nature. One of her favorite elements of her trip was watching as those boys began to change their perspectives and take the environment a little more seriously over the course of just four days. Not only was she able to share with these boys her passion for science and learning, but she was also able to watch some of them experience the environment in its most natural form for the first time. For many of these boys, this was the first time that anyone had ever invested the time into taking them hiking and/or camping.

In addition to being a full time student, Cassie has also taken up a job as a hostess to make ends meet while she’s in college, due to having to be financially independent. With no monetary support from her family, Cassie sought out the Casey Feldman Scholarship as a means of helping her to take her love of service to the next level. With humanitarian views very similar to those shared by Casey Feldman, there are very few people more deserving of the scholarship.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that more students may experience the joys of service work over their college break.

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*Jaela Zellars is a junior at The University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in integrative physiology and double minoring in Spanish and Women and Gender Studies. She currently works as a Peer Mentor in the Multicultural Living and Learning Community as well as the Volunteer Resource Center at CU where she uses her position to get first-year students engaged in service work.

Scholarship Recipient, Adilene Marquez, Passionate About Social Justice Issues

Monday, December 4th, 2017

By Jaela Zellers*

Adilene Marquez

Adilene Marquez, a Colorado native and current University of Colorado (CU) Boulder senior, is a wonderful example of the social justice oriented students that The Casey Feldman Foundation is proud to sponsor through their Alternative Spring Break (ASB) scholarships. Despite having a major in psychology as well as two minors in business and leadership, Adilene has made it her mission to be as passionate about social justice issues as possible. Some of her more specific social justice interests include: immigration, racism, poverty, and repairing the criminal justice system. Throughout her college career, Adilene has been involved with the Latinx activist group Umas y Mecha, the CU Boulder Honor Code, as well as the McNeil and TRIO academic programs. Adilene’s genuine care for the well-being of others has shaped many of her academic and social successes.

Coming from a working-class background, Adilene has never let her family’s financial situation deter her from achieving her dreams and being a great activist. Prior to applying for the Alternative Spring Breaks Program, Adilene’s mother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. While numerous treatments and surgeries left her family with a significant amount of debt and their own financial difficulties, Adilene’s passion to help others still inspired her to pursue the Alternative Spring Break Program in 2017. With the help of the Casey Feldman Scholarship, she was able to make that dream a reality.

During the Spring Break of 2017, Adilene, along with a few other dedicated CU students traveled to Tucson, Arizona to participate in the Alternative Spring Breaks trip that focused on Immigration Reform. With immigration policy reform being one of her most important social justice interests, she just knew that she was meant to go on this trip. During her week of service, Adilene was able to see first-hand how immigration policies in the United States have impacted communities that are not so different from her own. One element of the ASB experience that was truly memorable for Adilene was visiting the US-Mexico border where her group was able to see the actual location where so many men, women, and children have risked their lives to find a better future within our country.

Adilene is very interested in bringing more awareness to the challenges that underrepresented students like her face on a day-to-day basis on the CU Boulder campus and within the Boulder community. A natural-born leader, she says that “Social justice issues are very important to [her] and [she] has no problem with leading the movement that brings awareness to [those issues] and opens the eyes of some people”. Having previously volunteered in the hospital where her mother was treated for cancer, as well as with the Alternatives for Youth Program, which works to prepare at risk youth for going back to school with a positive attitude, Adilene is no stranger to service work. While enduring her own hardships in life, she has spent much of her free time improving the lives of others and making the world a better place. Adilene’s values, dedication, and positive-spirit are what make her not only a wonderful human being, but also someone who Casey would be proud to have continue her legacy.

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*Jaela Zellars is a junior at The University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in integrative physiology and double minoring in Spanish and Women and Gender Studies. She currently works as a Peer Mentor in the Multicultural Living and Learning Community as well as the Volunteer Resource Center at CU where she uses her position to get first-year students engaged in service work.

Scholarship Recipient Helps the Homeless in Seattle

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

By Morgan Steward*

Kiara Chavez

Kiara Chavez, a student in the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, has a hectic life. In addition to being a full time student, the sophomore somehow also finds time in her schedule to volunteer, tutor and work in order to support herself. This year, Chavez was looking for a way to do something impactful with her spring break vacation and turned to the Casey Feldman Foundation. She applied and became one of our Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients, traveling to Seattle, Washington to learn about youth in poverty and help build tiny homes for the homeless.

In order to provide for herself and her two sisters, Chavez’s parents moved from Mexico to the United States. Though her parents did not get the chance to attain a college degree themselves, they stressed the importance of education to Chavez. She combined this passion, along with her desire to help others, and began her first volunteer venture: tutoring younger neighborhood kids. Chavez continued to serve as a volunteer tutor in her community through high school, eventually branching out to helping in the local elementary school as well. To this day, Chavez still finds time to regularly tutor the children for whom she babysits.

As a ninth grade student, Chavez got the opportunity to travel with a group called Students Today, Leaders Tomorrow to volunteer in Utah. The program had a two-fold purpose: to enhance the participants’ leadership skills while also teaching them the importance of helping those around them. Since that moment, Chavez has desired to go on other volunteer trips to help communities in need, but was never able to do to the cost. When she found out about the Foundation’s alternative spring break program, Chavez knew she had to apply. “The life that Casey Feldman led is a fantastic reflection of how much positive change one person can be responsible for,” she said. “I have always believed in the power of volunteering as a mechanism to bringing positive change to people who truly need it.”

Chavez travelled to Seattle, Washington to partner with the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), an organization that, according to their website, “develops, owns and operates housing for the benefit of low-income, homeless and formerly homeless people in Washington State; advocates for just housing policies at the local and national levels; and administers a range of supportive service programs to assist those we serve in maintaining stable housing and increasing their self-sufficiency.”

The students worked with the LIHI to build a village of tiny homes for people were homeless. In addition to physically building the homes, the students met with community leaders to learn about the various issues that impact the homeless and had the chance to interact and provide educational opportunities to homeless youth.

“The alternative break served as an amazing opportunity to understand a new perspective on youth in poverty,” Chavez said of her trip. For her, the hardest part of the trip was not the manual labor, but seeing others struggle.

While on the trip, Chavez had the opportunity to spend some time with some of the inhabitants of the tiny houses—those conversations turned onto her most memorable moments. “I found it fascinating to learn about their experiences, and at the same time it was heartwarming to see them doing better and being appreciative of where they currently are. Everything was very real in that the people did not have a big movie ending, and they still have their personalities related to their experiences. It helped keep me from looking at them as anything other than people who could easily be my friend or family member. There was no movie ending in which everything was perfect, but most of the people there found that having a place to live was the first step in getting their life back.”

Chavez returned from the trip determined to raise more awareness for the issue in her own community. She talked to her friends and family about what she learned from the experience and pledged to start taking direct action in helping the homeless of Boulder. Her action started small. “I did small things like take the food from school events to the homeless community in Colorado,” she recounted, but hopes to accomplish bigger things in the future.

“I truly appreciated this experience. Learning more about myself and the community in Boulder left an impact on me that I will take with me for the rest of my life,” she said. Chavez thinks that Casey would be proud of what the students accomplished in Seattle and thinks Casey would have enjoyed the trip as well. “I would not doubt that Casey Feldman would have enjoyed spending her time learning about the community in Seattle. Our volunteer work with the community would have enhanced her understanding of the community she helped at the West End Homeless Shelter in NYC.”

One of the tiney houses built for the homeless in Seattle

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*Morgan Steward is a junior Communication and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (Casey’s alma mater). Born in Beaumont, TX, she to moved to New York City to pursue a career in the media. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer, Fordham’s student newspaper (where Casey was the News Editor).