Redmond High School (RHS) senior Elysia Nazareth knew she wanted her culminating project to leave a lasting mark on the community and to help disprove the notion that teens are apathetic.
She’s secured $8,000 in funds to purchase and install a new play structure for toddlers at the YWCA Family Village in downtown Redmond. She’s also working to raise awareness of how the YWCA empowers women of all ages, races and faiths.
Nazareth began volunteering at the local YWCA last summer and obtained a paid position at the end of September. She works there four afternoons a week, supervising children ages nine months to two years old, while their mothers work or attend school. These low-income moms were formerly homeless and/or survivors of domestic violence.
Seeing the babies’ sweet faces is a reminder of the need to bring joy to their situation.
“There are lots of special cases here, lots of stories to connect with,” said Nazareth. “Working with these kids (almost) every day, makes me excited that I will see the end result, giving them a safe place to play — and I’m learning to be a leader and liaison between the organization and the community.”
Her dad works for GE (General Electric) in Bellevue — each location has its own volunteer sector and supports a special need. GE Real Estate marketing program manager Maria Worth explained, “Elysia created a wonderful presentation about the YWCA Family Village needs and connected them with the benefits GE could deliver. Rehabilitating the YWCA’s toddler facilities coincides with GE’s focus for volunteer efforts on families, disadvantaged children and education. We are delighted to be able to provide the funding for this project and our volunteers are eager to begin the installation of the equipment this spring.”
The toddler area will be expanded with new fencing and a paved surface around it, so children can use riding toys. It will also include picnic tables with shading for rain or strong sunlight, since the tots are brought outside for fresh air every day.
In addition to her work at the YWCA, Nazareth takes AP classes at school, plays flute in the RHS band, is on The Blaze (RHS newspaper) staff and is active in RYPAC (Redmond Youth Partnership Advisory Committee).
Her schedule is very busy, Nazareth concluded, “but I’m not one to sit around and watch TV.” She plans to study communications in college.
To contact Nazareth about her culminating project, e-mail email@example.com.