Whiz Kid: Emily Benvenga
Accomplishment: Committing to a year of service with the Christian Appalachian Project.
Key to Awesomeness: Emily Benvenga was looking at the big picture in terms of her life plans when she decided to spend a year volunteering in rural Kentucky this fall.
"I knew that this was a great time to spend a year getting this kind of experience," the 17-year old said. "After college, I will be busy looking for a job, but now I can focus on what I am happiest doing—helping other people."
Benvenga will leave in August to join the Christian Appalachian Project, a Kentucky-based, interdenominational, non-profit Christian organization "committed to serving people in need in Appalachia by providing physical, spiritual and emotional support through a wide variety of programs and services." She said she will be working in a food pantry and a second-hand store, among other jobs within the community.
"The area is poverty-stricken and in some places, there is no electricity or running water," Benvenga said.
After coming across a brochure for the program at , where she attends church, the high school senior thought it would be a great way to fulfill her desire to have a new experience while making a real difference in people’s lives.
Her aspirations to serve follow a trip last year to Spain where she took part in "World Youth Day," an event attended by thousands of young people from around the world—and one where the Pope made an appearance.
"We have so much here in Yorktown," Benvenga added. "It is going to be so interesting and valuable for me to see how others live in Appalachia—many of whom have much simpler lives."
The Yorktown resident, who has three brothers and who also loves to babysit, said she plans to attend Catholic University after completing her year in Kentucky.
"I will get right back on track after this service year," she said. "And I have had so much support in making this happen—from my parents and from my teachers too."
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