Daily Point of Light # 2915 Apr 7, 2005

“Peer Partners”, is a youth volunteer group founded in 1997 to help others, while inspiring other youth and community members to share in the rewards of volunteerism. Peer Partners has organized community based service projects that have mobilized hundreds of community members as they work together to meet the needs, health and well being of others in need. They have collected toiletries for the homeless, hats for children with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, books for children who lost theirs during disaster, quarters for breast cancer research, and more. They have handcrafted valentines to remind our veteran’s that they are loved by today’s youth and created “pillow pals” to provide comfort to hospitalized children over the holidays. They even organized the first ever community talent show to raise money for the children of the victims of September 11. Inspired by a photo of a five frail children from an impoverished village in Ghana West Africa, they also set out to raise awareness and subsequently provided those children and their community with basic necessities including educational supplies, clean water, sandals, clothing and a building for them to learn in! This past July they organized a wonderfully successful bake sale to raise funds that are now earmarked to prevent child hunger in our local community and across America! In addition this past month they raised desperately needed funds to help build a “field of dreams” so that handicapped youth could enjoy the game of baseball.

In an effort to deliver the anti-tobacco message to teens and community members throughout our county and state, they enlisted the support of all New Jersey Little League Presidents. Those Little League Presidents have since posted the “tobacco-free/smoke-free” signs that they designed, funded, and distributed, on their ball fields to send the message that tobacco affects the health and well being of our youth!

Their entrepreneurial skills can be recognized in their ability to succeed with raising awareness, funds and merchant support. They have written and received grant monies, organized bake sales and lemonade sales, and even washed cars to help in funding their efforts. Their “Autographs from the Heart” program designed to support children and adolescents who experienced a personal illness or trauma has generated signatures of famous people to include Mariah Carey, Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, the Back Street Boys, Ricky Martin, LeeAnn Rimes and many others. Their “Talent Benefiting Others” fundraiser to assist the children of the victims of September 11 resulted in donations of signed sports memorabilia from the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh Penguins. Our “Quest for Education” efforts in support of the rural children of Ghana West Africa received sponsorship support from Swiss Air Cargo, The Ghana Embassy, Ventnor VFW, the Ghanaian Times, and Harcourt Publishers to name a few! Caesar’s Casino and Oral B, as well as local medical groups to include dentists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists and podiatrists donated toiletry supplies to Atlantic City Rescue Mission homeless projects. Their recent bake sale caught the attention of actress Masiela Lusha from the George Lopez show, who flew to Ocean City to join us in our fundraising effort to help end child hunger in America. And, just last month they had their wish granted by the Oscar Mayer and subsequently had the Weiner mobile at their fundraiser event geared to raise funds to help build the Field of Dreams for local handicapped youth!! The list goes on, as they enlist the support of others to help those in need!

Peer Partners motto of “volunteering together and making a difference’ has allowed them to advocate healthy youth lifestyles locally and worldwide by serving both the immediate and long-term needs of their community. Their program has empowered other in volunteerism, while improving community awareness and developing a stronger sense of self in their peers. They have become role models to their peers, positions they respect and do not take for granted. In fact, they are recipients of the 2004 Service to Women and Girls Award issued by the Atlantic County Advisory Commission on Women.