After being diagnosed with Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM) on her left arm at the age of five, Arlena Occhipinti struggled with her self-confidence and wanted to hide her imperfections. Arteriovenous Malformations are high-flow lesions that appear as a red tumor with palpable pulsation and elevated temperature. The condition caused Arlena to become self-conscious and shy. Then, when Arlena was eight years old, her mother entered her into a scholarship beauty pageant that would change her life.
Mentored by strong and empowered women with incredible stories and a love for volunteering changed Arlena’s life. Since then, the now 15-year-old Rome, New York resident, has volunteered more than 4,000 hours with numerous organizations and is committed to making a difference in her community and is today’s Daily Point of Light Award Honoree.
Arlena makes monthly visits to the Ronald McDonald House and is a youth ambassador for NYPENN Girl Scouts, where she travels to central New York and shares her story with other girls through her program, Girl Talk. At their weekly meetings, they discuss topics like building self-confidence, bullying and peer pressure. The recently crowned Miss Teen New York International also helps set up a yearly toy drive and fundraiser which benefits Children’s Miracle Network and for the past four years, she has volunteered at the Shine the Night event with the Tim Tebow Foundation, a prom night experience for people with special needs ages 14 and older.
When asked what inspires her to volunteer, Arlena responds, “Seeing how my volunteer work actually makes a difference inspires me to continue. I’ve seen so many girls gain confidence through the weekly Girl Talk meetings I run. It’s truly heartwarming to see the girls accept them self and realize it’s okay to be different.”
Do you want to make a difference in your like Arlena? Visit All For Good for local volunteer opportunities.