By Janee Law
An Oldfield Middle School eighth grader was recently recognized for her efforts in community service after being selected as the school’s annual Prudential Spirit of Community Award winner.
Lauren Pisano, 13, of Centerport, said Wednesday that she is “really happy about receiving the award and I’m really grateful. When my mom first introduced me to [community service] it was a whole other world of helping people and it really warms my heart.”
The program is the largest youth recognition program based primarily on community service, honoring those middle school and high school students for outstanding service at the local, state and national level.
Pisano has dedicated more than 500 hours to helping others, volunteering for her church, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, and also at Carillon Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Huntington for over a year.
“I really enjoy giving back,” Pisano said. “I get excited when I get to help others and I always look to do more.”
Every day, Pisano volunteers at the church’s food pantry to help feed 75 families. She also took part in coordinating the church’s holiday giving tree, which provides items to less fortunate families during the holiday season.
Pisano also participates in Huntington-based Project Hope, making sandwiches to feed the homeless every month and is involved in Respite, a club that works with those with special needs.
For Project Hope, Pisano said that after learning how many homeless men and women there are in the Long Island region, she wanted to join the cause and help her community. She added that having a family member with special needs encouraged her to join Respite, which is based out of her church.
At her school, Pisano is involved in the soccer and track teams; the chorus and orchestra; and the Student Recognition Club, which spotlights students that are excellent examples of the school’s character trait of the month.
When applying for the program, Pisano completed an application and submitted a 750-word essay regarding her volunteer work. The school selected her as an honoree to continue on for state-level judging, where only one middle school and high school student from New York can be selected as a state honoree.
Pisano will find out whether or not she qualifies to be a finalist in February.
If selected, Pisano will be offered the chance to receive cash rewards, a trip to Washington, D.C. for national recognition events and a $5,000 grant from the Prudential Foundation for a nonprofit charitable organization of her choice.
Jennifer McCaffrey, Pisano’s guidance counselor, said that the eighth grader is one of 10 students from the Harborfields School District to ever be nominated to the state level.
“If she makes it through the state level, she would be our first ever nominate to make it to the national level,” McCaffrey said on Wednesday. “We are extremely proud of her and we are really keeping our fingers crossed that she gets that nod to the next level but so proud of what she’s already accomplished.”