Service is Second Nature to Lafayette Student

Samantha Rivera

When Lafayette Middle schooler Samantha Rivera takes her place this Saturday alongside more than 250 other eighth graders from across the state, she’ll be doing what come natural to her.

Helping others.

Rivera will take part in the state’s Second Annual Day of Service this coming Saturday, Jan. 14th, to honor and celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

The effort is part of Gov. Deval Patrick’s Project 351, which encourages young people across the state to develop an ethic of service.

“We’re very proud of her at the Lafayette, that she was chosen for that honor,” said Lafayette Principal Kevin Shaw. “She’s a wonderful, wonderful person and a great student. She’s also the president of our newly formed Student Government, and she plays on the school’s girl’s basketball team. Overall, she’s just a great kid.”

Shaw said that he and Guidance Counselor Bob Constantine nominated Rivera for the honor, noting that she was already dedicated to serving the community.

At school, Rivera helps guidance counselors train teachers in non-violent interventions, has been the Student of the Month multiple times, serves in the School Bank and helps with special needs students at the Lafayette.

Meanwhile, the eighth grader also volunteers at the New England Hemophilia Association, performing childcare for parents who need to attend training seminars.

This Saturday, Gov. Patrick will again host a Youth Town Meeting before the young people fan out to service sites across Boston including, Cradles to Crayons, the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Towers.

The day will conclude at the State House where the ambassadors and the Governor will reflect on the day and celebrate the legacy of Dr. King.

January 14th will also serve as the launch of Project 351, a new, independent non-profit dedicated to continuing youth leadership in the Commonwealth through dedication to service of an annual class of ambassadors. Gov. Patrick will serve as Project 351’s honorary chair.

“Project 351 will support and create opportunities for the eighth grade ambassadors’ continued service, by providing tools, enrichment and connection to a community of their peers,” said Carolyn Casey, executive director of Project 351. “We will work to ensure that young leaders from across the Commonwealth have the greatest potential to make a difference in their communities.”

Last year’s day of service impacted over 10,000 children facing economic challenges in the areas of nutrition, early childhood health and development and education and motivated the ambassadors who took part.

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