She’s EmPOWERed: Maryland Teen Inspires Youth to Serve with Small Things Matter Organization

For as long as she can remember, Lana Anderson has been involved in her community. As a preschooler, she would make crafts for children as part of the National Institute of Health’s Thoughtful Treasures program. And as a middle school student, she was an active member of her school’s Difference Makers service club.

Those experiences fueled her passion for giving back. And now at 18, she continues to serve and encourage others through her nonprofit, Small Things Matter (STM).

“I started Small Things Matter as a way to empower younger children to serve and create lifelong habits of giving back,” said Lana, who is currently studying biology at the University of Maryland. “Our motto is kid-powered kindness for those in need.”

Small Things Make a Big Difference

Small Things Matter hosts several events and initiatives under three programs: a food distribution program, a literacy program and a crafting for charity program.

Through its food distribution program, STM provides nutritious grocery items to over 1,000 local families each month, totaling about 1 million pounds of food each year. “These fresh produce, dairy and nonperishable items allow families to feed their children healthy, delicious, high-quality meals,” Lana noted.

The Books for Bedtime literacy program provides new books to underserved children and their families in an effort to build a strong educational foundation.

Crafting for Charity gives children of all ages and abilities the opportunity to share their talents with those in need at children’s hospitals, shelters, etc.

Through these projects, STM hopes to nourish children’s bodies, minds and spirits and motivate youth of all ages to give back.

Lana’s work with Small Things Matter has been recognized by numerous government agencies as well as national organizations and businesses.

Thank you, Lana, for all you do to help improve the quality of life for others while being a positive role model for youth!

To learn more about Small Things Matter, visit www.smallthingsmatter.org.

Follow Small Things Matter on Facebook.

She’s EmPOWERed: Third Grader’s Passion for the Planet Inspires Environmental Justice-Themed Book

Around the world, governments are trying to figure out how to solve the most pressing environmental issues – from air and water pollution to global warming and sea level rise. 

So, what on earth can we do to fix these problems? It may seem overwhelming but the first thing to do is something! 

Meet Aahna Rangnath – an eight year old from California deeply committed to environmental justice. She is an elementary school student who is doing something! Aahna is on a mission to motivate kids to help transform the environment. 

The aspiring author is working on publishing her first book entitled Green Girls.

The book follows a group of three friends who find a magic portal in Hawaii and travel around the world to save the planet.

Aahna, who is of Asian Indian descent, wanted to make sure that the characters in her book reflect the girls in her community. “There are not that many books about girls with brown skin so I made sure all my characters had brown skin, she said. “I want people to know that young girls can be powerful.”

Girls are indeed powerful and have the potential to create world-wide change. 

According to a report from the National Democratic Institute, gender equality is a vital component of climate justice. “Women and girls are, and will continue to be, more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation,” the report stated. 

More women and girls are needed to hold leadership positions and be at the center of environmental activism and governance. 

Aahna is well on her way. When she grows up, she wants to be a scientist. “I want to be a dog scientist because I love my dog and I love science. I do a lot of science projects and I really enjoy them,” she explained.“ I also like doing science projects about water conservation.”

Good luck Aahna. We can’t wait to get our copy of Green Girls

She’s EmPOWERed: Meet the 15-year-old political journalist challenging bias in the media

For many people, finding your passion and purpose can take several years or even several decades. But not for Cassidy Conley. At only 15 years old, she is already making her mark as a political journalist. 

From copywriting in the government and advocacy sectors to curating content for her blog “Let’s Talk Politics,” Cassidy has a wealth of experience . . . and she’s just getting started.

“I found my passion in politics because I wanted to be part of the movement our nation is going through today. I didn’t want to sit idly by complaining about what our nation is doing wrong,” Cassidy said. “I combined my two passions and effectively used my voice for the better of people, especially women, like me; young and resilient.”

In addition to being young and resilient, Cassidy describes herself as funny, intriguing, fierce, bold, bright, joyful and helpful – all of which would make her a great candidate for political office someday. 

After high school, she plans to attend the University of Michigan, major in Public Policy and intern for her state representative’s staff team.

“My service is for the community. It is centered around the community. The whole purpose of my service is to give citizens the best resources and representation,” she said. “Our news resources are very biased, and it is not fair to the upcoming generation to take the brunt of the biased media.”

Finding Balance

Cassidy may be laser focused on her career, but she finds balance in other passions. 

“I love to impact people and help them in any way which is also a huge reason why I am stuck in politics, but other than that, I am a competitive figure skater.”

We are so proud of Cassidy and wish her much success in her life and career.

If you know a girl who is making an impact, tell us about her. We’re continually accepting submissions for She’s EmPOWERed. Learn more here

She’s EmPOWERed: Community Service is a Family Affair for Virginia Sisters and NEST4US Founders

Service to the community is a strong value in the Venkat family household. So it’s no surprise that sisters Shreyaa and Esha are championing causes and inspiring others to do the same.

“Our mom would bring us along to volunteer at school and community events even back in elementary school,” said eldest sister, Shreyaa, 18. “That was when we were first introduced to the world of community service. The giving spirit has always been in our family for generations.”

The award-winning sisters believe it’s our responsibility as humans to give back to the people who need it the most. There are millions of people in the world that don’t have access to basic necessities like food and some don’t even have families or loved ones.

PURPOSE & PASSION

“This is proof that the world needs people to spark change and build a better future. So, we thought, why couldn’t that be us?” said younger sister, Esha, 15. That’s the inspiration behind why they formed NEST4US, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing volunteer solutions to the community to make the world better through kindness.

The sisters have made such an impact in their community and across the country that they have been honored with dozens of awards, including the George H.W. Bush Points of Light Award. This year, Shreyaa was selected for the Clinton Global Initiative University 2021 Cohort by the Clinton Foundation. Additionally, the girls were among the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth honorees and selected for the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey.

It’s hard to imagine Shreyaa and Esha having time for anything else with all their NEST4US initiatives. But they do! These fierce founders are both travel soccer players, Kathak dancers, 3rd degree black belts, certified soccer referees and assistant martial arts instructors.

“Many people wonder, how do we manage to balance academics, extracurriculars and still keep time open in our schedules to give back consistently? Well, for us, we believe that you don’t need to have time, you should make the time to help others,” the sisters agreed.

ASPIRATIONS

Currently, Shreyaa is balancing her time as a freshman at Georgetown University majoring in Global Health studies. She aspires to enter the medical field and delve into healthcare management, through which she’ll continue providing aid to marginalized populations who lack equitable access to vital healthcare resources and treatments.

Esha, who is a high school student, is interested in studying neuroscience and/or computer science/animation when she goes to college. “Personally, I want to work in the neuroscience and technology field when I grow up, because I am interested in the brain and all things STEM,” she said.

You can keep up to date with all of the NEST4US initiatives and activities at www.nest4us.org.

Follow them at:

Facebook- @nest4us
Instagram- @joinnest
Twitter- @joinnest4