Enumclaw Teen Wins DHL and WE Youth Volunteer Fellowship Award With Trip to Ecuador

DHL, the world’s leading international express services provider, and WE, a family of organizations that makes doing good doable, today announced the winners of the third annual DHL Youth Volunteer Fellowship Awards program. Launched in 2016, the Fellowship recognizes exceptional young Americans who are moving the needle on some of today’s pressing social issues through transformative actions that create lasting impact. The program empowers youth by participating in mentorship and leadership-building opportunities presented through the prize package.

The 2019 winners recently returned from a life-changing ME to WE culturally immersive trip to Ecuador where they met like-minded youth and contributed to WE’s international development model, WE Villages. While in Ecuador, winners also witnessed the support DHL provides to the ME to WE artisan program, shipping handmade artisan products from Ecuador to North America and beyond. Click here to access the Electronic Press Kit complete with photos and video footage from the 2019 winners’ trip.

Open to applicants aged 13 to 18 from the states of Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Washington, and California, the award asked candidates to highlight what actions they have taken to make an impact in their community or beyond. A judging panel of influential thought and community leaders, led by Greg Hewitt, CEO of DHL Express U.S., and Marc Kielburger, co-founder of WE, selected the winners. 

The 2019 DHL Youth Volunteer Fellowship Award winners include

Sophia DeMarco, 15, Enumclaw, Washington

  • Sophia DeMarco takes action on a number of community-level and global-minded issues but has helped make a visible difference in her community when it comes to preserving the environment. Through her participation in her school’s student council, Sophia quickly created a county-recognized recycling program that has reduced her school’s waste by 70% and saved over 200,000 water bottles. Sophia got her school involved through countless classroom presentations and the creation of informational videos; she even visited neighboring elementary schools, inspiring them to start their own recycling programs.

Pablo Ramirez, 16, McAllen, Texas

  • Pablo Ramirez transformed an old science space into a food pantry known as the Energy Bar to help tackle the issue of food security at his school. By partnering with his school’s breakfast club, the Energy Bar takes any leftover non-perishable food items and makes them accessible to students and educators throughout the day alongside everyday essentials like toiletries. Pablo has seen the impact of the Energy Bar and has created a quick-start plan that empowers schools in the surrounding area to build their own Energy Bar program. 

Mari Young, 18, Lincolnshire, Illinois

  • Part of Illinois’s WE Youth Council, Mari Young understands some of the complexities and inequity that surrounds Chicago’s education system. Interested in learning more, Mari explored the issue further with a few of her teachers and asked how technology can enhance the classroom. Wanting to take action, Mari devised a plan to help make an impact in one Chicago school and reached out to her former teacher, now a principal at an underserved school in Chicago, and asked if she would team up with her to bring technology into her classroom. Through a fundraising campaign, Mari is galvanizing her community to help her reach her goal of raising $10,000, which will be used to outfit an entire class with iPads, enhancing their academic careers.

Hannah Yanover, 15, Los Angeles, California

  • To combat racism and intolerance, Hannah Yanover is taking action at home and abroad in hopes of creating a more inclusive world. Proudly Jewish, Hannah got involved with an international initiative looking to restore a cemetery in Poland that was destroyed in World War II. Hannah led the charge to raise over $26,000 to help preserve the space and volunteered alongside local high school students to complete the physical work. At home, Hannah started an inclusivity program at her school and is working with her educators to incorporate an awards program that will honor students who are actively making the school more inclusive.

Ryan Keller, 15, Plymouth, Minnesota

  • At age five, Ryan Keller quickly learned about the issue of illiteracy in the U.S. when his sister founded a nonprofit called Read Indeed, which to date has distributed nearly three million books to children who otherwise would go without. Up until two years ago, Ryan would volunteer twice weekly at Read Indeed’s warehouse, but has since moved into the role of Program Manager. In this role, Ryan oversees the warehouse processing system, trains and manages hundreds of volunteers, sources recipients and applies for grants. Ryan strongly believes all kids should have access to books and estimates over one million kids have benefitted from Read Indeed’s work.

Izzie Segal, 14, Lincolnshire, Illinois

  • As one of the leaders of her school’s Wright Way Club, Izzie is passionate about helping to end the issue of hunger and homelessness in her community. To take action on this issue, Izzie is a regular at a local nonprofit that supplies food to families in need. Izzie volunteers with them on a weekly basis and brings five people with her every Friday, inspiring her fellow club members to make a difference through volunteer work.

“As evidenced by the Fellowship program, today’s generation of youth has an unrelenting passion for social change and continues to have a real impact on the lives of those in their communities and beyond,” said Greg Hewitt, CEO of DHL Express U.S.  “DHL is proud to invest in these outstanding young change-makers, providing them with life-changing experiences and unique mentoring opportunities that will help them develop and flourish as our next generation of leaders. I thank all of the candidates we evaluated, as well as their families, for articulating the kind of values that DHL stands for—namely, connecting people and improving their lives.”

In addition to the trip to Ecuador, winners received:

  • An invitation to attend a WE event taking place across America in 2019
  • A leadership session with senior members of DHL and WE to learn firsthand from accomplished social leaders
  • Mentorship from a WE leadership member, who will provide one-on-one support to ensure recipients have the tools and support necessary to bring their action plans to life

“We are incredibly grateful to DHL for supporting us in recognizing another truly inspiring group of young change-makers from across the U.S.,” said Marc Kielburger, co-founder of WE. “From a nonprofit program manager, to the founder of a food pantry, to creating an award that builds inclusivity, this year’s winners are applying their strengths to take action on issues they are most passionate about. I look forward to seeing how this award will propel their passions forward in the years to come.”

A leader in supporting social programs in communities around the world, DHL partners with WE year-round to help make an impact in local and global communities. Since 2012, as part of its commitment to WE, DHL has shipped to U.S. and Canadian retail markets more than 5 million pieces of jewelry handmade by female artisans in Kenya and Ecuador, helping these women earn an income to send their children to school.

For more information, please visit WE.org/dhl.