A quiet girl from the Dominican Republic, Katherine, for the most part, kept to herself. Katherine had been in my English class and was a member of my homeroom at St. Joseph High School in Brooklyn, NY. She was one of those students who teachers often let slip through the cracks unknowingly; she wasn’t a talkative student, didn’t get into trouble, and neither exceptionally excelled or failed academically. To many teachers and students in the school, she was probably invisible.
Approached by another student, I helped to start a GlamourGals chapter at our school. GlamourGals is a 501 © (3) organization whose mission is to create compassionate teen leaders through service with the elderly. Teen volunteers go to senior homes and give complimentary facials, makeovers, and manicures to the residents. Our first makeover at the Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn was amazing. Some of the girls cried when we left as they had already bonded with the women and didn’t want to leave them alone.
Katherine and some of her friends began volunteering, and right after, there was a change in her! Katherine began to participate more in her classes and talk more to other girls in order to get them to also join GlamourGals. Katherine became a consistent member, attending every single makeover, putting countless amounts of red lipstick on Theresa, a woman who simply adored her. After seeing how committed she was, I asked Katherine to be our chapter’s president.
Katherine was ecstatic. She didn’t hold any other leadership positions at the school. Eventually, she was interviewed for NY 1 and featured in an article in The Tablet, a local newspaper. Thanks to all of her hard work and dedication, we learned that our chapter would be winning a smile maker Glammy at the Glamour in the City event held annually in New York City to recognize teen volunteers with the chapter.
Katherine was chosen to give the acceptance speech for our award. Though she was nervous, Katherine accepted the award on behalf of the Brooklyn Chapter: her first EVER public speaking engagement. However, she didn’t stop there! Katherine continued to volunteer throughout the summer when other volunteers chose to stay home and she was even asked to speak again about her experiences and introduce one of the speakers at the Glamour Leadership Training Institute (GTLI) held the weekend before Thanksgiving. Again, she did a great job!
Katherine’s story has truly impacted me as an educator, and a GlamourGals volunteer. There are many young women out there with great talents that are yet to be seen because they don’t have the appropriate outlets to share their gifts. Katherine’s unique ability to use her fashionista knowledge and happy demeanor to create meaningful experiences at the senior homes, allowed her to realize that though she may not have been the straight A student every teacher knew by name, she was a force to be reckoned with!