Aliyah*, a 10-year-old Syrian girl, could barely speak a word of English last year before her family moved to the United States. Last week, she delivered a speech in English to a 200-person audience at a volunteer award ceremony.
“I came from Syria,” she said. “I came to America one year ago. I did not know any English. Many teachers came to my house and teach me English. I make many friends. Now I understand. Thank you, Zakat Foundation, for helping me.”
Aliyah was one of 72 North Carolina residents granted a ZF Volunteer Service Award. The event took place at North Carolina State University’s Hunt Library. 20 residents also received President’s Volunteer Service Awards.
The award ceremony attendees included: the volunteer coordinator of Ronald McDonald House in Chapel Hill; Nikki Lyons, Human Services Progam Consultant; Lindsay Mahaffey, Wake Counry School Board Director District 8; and the Executive Director of North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service from Governor Roy Cooper’s Office.
Youth speakers discussed ZF programs including the auto rickshaw project for Rohingya refugees and others in Bangladesh; mobilizing volunteers for Hurricane Matthew relief; serving the elderly at the Durham Center for Senior Life; tutoring elementary kids and immigrant youth; and creating fundraisers for the recent hurricane in Puerto Rico.
ZF received high praise from the ceremony attendees. Christine Kushner of WCPSS Board of Education’s District 6 said the students were inspiring, and that it was an honor to be there and meet them.
Caroline Farmer, Executive Director of North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service from Governor Roy Cooper’s Office, said she was impressed with the work the kids were doing.
“I was absolutely delighted by the children and all the many facets of involvement of the Zakat Foundation,” said Volunteer Coordinator Marcia Kessinger. “We are honored to be associated.”
Murat Kose, ZF East Coast Programs Director, said volunteers carry out a lot of ZF work, expressing his appreciation for all the volunteers.
“We encourage everyone to volunteer two hours a week,” he said. “When youth start volunteering two hours a week, it becomes habit and they will be doing volunteer work the rest of their lives.”
Are you interested to volunteer with ZF? Reach out to us at getinvolved@zakat,org, and make sure to follow us on social media (@zakat_us).
* – Name changed to protect minor’s privacy.