Rachel Shields, a rising high school senior, has been serving children at Emerald Youth Foundation since May 2000. She began by coming each day and allowing children to read to her during the Emerald Youth Foundation’s summer program. During the school year, she continued to come on Monday night and help children with their homework and problem subjects. Rachel’s quiet demeanor allows children to feel comfortable with her. She will allow them to read for long periods of time. While this helps the children increase their reading skills, it also enables them to have someone to talk to.
Rachel wants to support the children in whatever they are doing. Even though she does not belong to the little urban Emerald Avenue Youth Ministry church, she participates in their Vacation Bible School and attends the Children’s Choir concerts. They know that Rachel is one of their biggest fans.
In September 2001, her commitment was so strong, she was selected to be the student advisor to the Children’s Leadership team at the Emerald Avenue ministry location. While working with this team a project was developed, called Graffiti Busters that has been very effective in the community. Rachel and this team have planned and carried two Graffiti Busters days in which 130 volunteers served, four businesses and two residential garages were painted. This past spring the project was expanded to include Graffiti Busters Club to allow children in the elementary school to participate in reporting graffiti. The six children on the team that she advised were honored this spring with the Dillard News Sentinel Student Citizen Award for their creation and participating in this project. Emerald Youth Foundation has recently received the NIKE, INC. and Youth Service America Youth Action Award for the Graffiti Busters National Youth Service Day project. The $500 will be used to continue this project with the leadership team that Rachel advises expanding its impact on the community to include research into the areas most likely to be vandalized, penalties for vandalism, and what needs to be done to eliminate graffiti in the neighborhood
Rachel was awarded the Youth of Excellence Award by the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority in the Community Service category. She was also selected as the overall winner in the High School Division, which included Academics, Community Service and Extracurricular Activities.
Since she began serving the children of Emerald Youth Ministries, she has completed nearly 300 hours of service and has received the President’s Student Service Gold Award in 2000 and 2001. Rachel continues to serve the community by coming two days each week to let the children read to her and will continue her advisory role to the Children’s Leadership team in the fall. Her unselfish commitment to urban children is genuine and unsolicitous. She seeks no award or recognition for her volunteer work.