Senior Katie Quesada has proved herself among all volunteers in the state by becoming one of eight distinguished finalists for the State of Florida by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals for her community service. This award is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. Katie started this journey in ninth grade by founding her own non-profit organization, Friends for Fosters, Inc. While Quesada was looking for a way to earn service hours for school, she also had a strong desire to impact her community. When she learned that while moving from home to home, many foster children carried their belongings in trash bags, she knew she needed to make a change. Her main goal became helping foster children in her community.
“The organization’s motto, ‘Care. Help. Give,’ inspires me everyday to take a step back and think about how I can use my resources to help others. The motto has become my mantra, and this is a personal reminder that will stay with me the rest of my life,” Quesada said.
She began with a campaign called “Duffel Bags for Darlings,” in which the organization was able to manufacture personalized duffel bags and donate them through a local foster agency. These bags were distributed to foster children in South Florida. During her second campaign, the organization donated presents to a foster agency’s “Christmas Shop,” where foster families could select toys for the holidays. She did this through coordination with professional firms throughout the community. Friends for Fosters is currently raising money in their third campaign, The Good Gift, with the purpose of assisting teenagers who are aging out of the foster care system and are left with no family. The organization is fundraising in order to supply them with basic necessities and monetary support. Friends for Fosters is also partnering with the Heritage Key Club to host a collection at school for supplies in order to donate them to foster children.
In addition to founding her organization, during the summer of 2016, Quesada won the $5,000 Coca-Cola PayitForward Scholarship and attended a leadership academy at the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta for her work with foster children. This past April, she was named as one of 40 semifinalists from over 800 applicants for the Yale Basset Award of Community Engagement.
“Winning the Prudential Award really showed me how large of an impact Friends for Fosters is making in South Florida, large enough to be nationally recognized. I am just amazed at the lengths I have been able to take this organization and the children, many close to my age, that I have been able to bless,” Quesada said.
To learn more about the Prudential Award, visit https://spirit.prudential.com/.