This program, now in its 24th year, is the nation’s largest youth volunteer awards program honoring students for outstanding volunteer service.
18-year-old Hannah Mitchell helped start a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teens who are dealing with suicidal feelings. Mitchell raised more than $4,000 for the cause by organizing two citywide art shows to get the publics’ attention regarding teen mental health and suicide prevention.
This is a sensitive topic that hits home for Mitchell. In September 2016, her best friend committed suicide.
“In my life, I had never experienced such pain. While grieving, I turned to art as an outlet for all of the pain, confusion and tumultuous emotions I felt,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell joined forces with her peers to form an organization called “Project Reasons” to remind people who are struggling that there are things and people worth living for.
To raise money, Michell sought support from students, teachers, and businesses, recruited volunteers and promoted events online for the citywide art gallery events for two years in a row.
With ticket sales combined with the auction of donated artworks, Mitchell’s shows raised thousands of dollars to help Project Reasons create an app and video series, expand regionally, and buy art supplies for a local mental health center.
Mitchell also wrote a manual detailing the organizational process involved in her art fundraisers in hopes that it can continue after she graduates.
As an honoree, Mitchell will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. in May where she will join the other honorees from each state for four days of national recognition events.
During the trip, ten students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2019.