Daily Point of Light # 2881 Feb 18, 2005

Veronica Osorio is a leader and role model for the All Stars Project, Inc. in Newark, NJ. A junior at Montclair State College with a major in political science, Veronica devotes a generous portion of her spare time to transforming a short-staffed local operation into a solid opportunity for social change in Newark’s inner-city community. She initiated the Phyllis H. Hyman Phat Friends Awards Youth Committee in Newark, which is now in its third year. The Phat Friends Awards serves to honor adults who have distinguished themselves by their concern for and involvement with young people.

Thanks to Veronica’s leadership, inspiration, and motivating spirit, the Phat Friends Awards Committee has developed into a solid group comprised of inner-city youth who organize a city-wide campaign for young people to nominate, interview, and select their own leaders from within their community. Young people select nominees from among church leaders, teachers, and volunteers who have worked with them in such capacities as after-school programs. It is both a great honor and a character-building experience for young people to salute their own unsung heroes. The Phat Friends Awards are then presented at an awards reception attended by donors and community leaders. This ceremony is fast becoming one of the most moving and inspiring annual events in Newark.

Veronica’s strength and drive have empowered many inner-city youth to evaluate what is genuinely important to them. By supporting young people in their endeavors to honor a special adult or adults who have made a key difference in their lives, Veronica has inspired many young people to develop strong values and acquire focus.

Veronica’s energy, sense of purpose, and generosity has led her to additional volunteer opportunities both within and outside of the All Stars Project. She has also acted as a youth assistant for the Development School for Youth (DSY), a leadership training and career education program for young people aged 16-21; helped to organize the National Hip Hop Political Convention; and served as an advocate for the Essex County Rape Crisis Call Center.

As for her own future, Veronica hopes to attend George Washington University and work toward a master’s in urban development. She also plans to join the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. Wherever her path may take her, Veronica will always seek out ways in which she can serve her community by creating a safe haven in which children, teenagers, and adults alike can learn from each other and grow.